Saudi Arabia: A 15-year-old Boy Detained Since 2014 for Participating in Peaceful Protests
On 21 September 2014, Murtaja Algariras, 13 years old at the time, was arrested by Saudi police on his way to Bahrain. During the investigation, Murtaja was tortured to extract confessions stating his participation in "illegal gatherings". Almost two years after his arrest, Murtaja has not yet been charged and no date has been set for his trial. Concerned over his fate, Alkarama referred his case to the Special Rapporteur on Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and of Association (FPAA), requesting his intervention with the Saudi authorities.
After his arrest, Murtaja was held incommunicado and in solitary confinement for a month. He was interrogated by the Al Mabahith forces, the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, who brutally beat him in order to force him to confess to his participation in peaceful demonstrations as well as his attendance of funerals of persons killed by the authorities during protests. Murtaja was also prevented from consulting and mandating a lawyer. Almost two years after his arrest, Murtaja has still not been charged.
Concerned over the arbitrary character of his detention and that once charged, Murtaja will face an unfair trial, Alkarama called upon the Special Rapporteur, Maina Kai, to request the Saudi authorities to immediately release Murtaja and, in case of a trial, to abstain from admitting coerced confessions into evidence and to investigate his torture allegations. Alkarama recalls that other minors charged for the participation in popular protests have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia such as Ali al-Nimr and Abdullah Al-Zaher.
Alkarama further emphasizes that Murtaja's arrest and detention constitute blatant violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Indeed, article 37 of the CRC provides that no child shall be subjected to torture, that the arrest of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and that every child deprived of liberty must have prompt access to legal assistance. Alkarama therefore intends to communicate this information to the Committee on the Rights of the Child at Saudi Arabia's next periodic review before the Committee.
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