Saudi Arabia has ended the death penalty for crimes committed by minors, days after it said it would ban floggings in response to criticism over its human rights records.

The Saudi Human Rights Commission broke the news on Sunday, citing a royal decree by King Salman, after the country’s capital city had signed the UN convention on the rights of the child.

According to Awwad Alawwad, the human rights commission’s president, the death sentence was eliminated for those convicted of crimes committed while they were still below the legal age.

“The decree means that any individuals who received a death sentence for crimes committed while he or she is a minor can no longer face execution,” Alawwad explained in a statement.

“Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility. This is an important day for Saudi Arabia.

“The decree helps us in establishing a more modern penal code and demonstrates the kingdom’s commitment to following through on key reforms across all sectors of our country.”

The kingdom had earlier moved to replace floggings with fines and jail terms as part of a reform being undertaken by King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and his son.

Saudi Arabia had been accused of having one of the world’s worst human rights records, with activists claiming freedom of expression is curtailed and government critics arbitrarily arrested.

According to Amnesty International, a record 184 people were executed in the country in 2019, with at least one case involving a man convicted of a crime committed when he was a minor.



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