Saudi Arabian officials announced Monday the execution of two Shi’a Muslim men from Bahrain despite criticism of the men’s trial from Amnesty International. Jaafar Mohammad Sultan and Sadeq Majeed Thamer were accused of allegedly supporting terrorist acts, protesting the government in Bahrain and smuggling explosives over the Saudi-Bahrain border.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, the Ministry of Interior claimed the men were members of a “terrorist entity” and “communicated with terrorists inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, supporting them to carry out terrorist acts.”
A coalition of human rights organizations, including the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights and SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights condemned the executions, stating:
The execution crime committed by the Saudi authorities today is considered “extrajudicial killing,” as both victims had denied the accusations against them after being subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Furthermore, the Saudi authorities continue to use the charge of “terrorism” with its vague definitions to punish its opponents as part of a series of repressive campaigns purely for political reasons, targeting the people of Al Qatif region, particularly.
Amnesty International has claimed that the men were found guilty in “grossly unfair” trials. The organization says the men were detained in solitary confinement for three-and-a-half months, they had no access to legal representation throughout their trial and they were told they would not see their families until they confessed. Amnesty also claimed that Sultan was tortured to such an extent that he was hospitalized for ten days. Amnesty featured the men in the 2022 Report on Death Sentences and Executions.
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner earlier this month criticized the 2017 Saudi terrorism law the men were charged under, stating that the law was “overly vague” and “does not appear to be in line with international law, as raised several times by Special Procedures.”
Both men were Shi’a Muslims, who make up a large minority in Saudi Arabia, primarily located in the Al Qatif and Al Ahsa regions. Many Shi’a in the kingdom have reported extensive discrimination in everything from education to criminal justice, according to a report from the Institute for Gulf Affairs.