Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr
Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr
علي محمد باقر النمر
|Born||December 20, 1994|
|Known for||2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests, death penalty|
Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr (Arabic: علي محمد باقر النمر; born 20 December 1994) is a Saudi Arabian political prisoner who has participated in the Saudi Arabian protests during the Arab Spring as a teenager. He was arrested in February 2012, sentenced to death in May 2014, and previously awaited ratification of his sentence by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which was to be carried out by beheading and crucifixion, respectively. Al-Nimr's trial was called unfair by Professor of Human Rights Law Christof Heyns, and Amnesty International, as well as French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who called for the execution to be stopped. Ali al-Nimr is the nephew of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was one of the 47 executed citizens during the 2016 Saudi Arabian mass execution. Ali al-Nimr's death sentence is presumed to have been overturned in April 2020 following several announcements from the Saudi government that people convicted as minors under 18 years of age are not to be executed.
Background, arrest, and sentencing
Al-Nimr participated in the 2011–12 Saudi Arabian protests during the Arab Spring. According to a court judgment, he "encouraged pro-democracy protests using a BlackBerry smartphone". Al-Nimr was arrested on 14 February 2012. According to al-Nimr's father, the arrest was carried out by secret police ramming into him with their vehicle on a moonless night, resulting in multiple fractures and other injuries. Ali al-Nimr was hospitalised for several days. He was detained at a General Directorate of Investigations (GDI) prison in Dammam. He stated that he was repeatedly and severely tortured during his detention.
On 27 May 2014 al-Nimr was sentenced to death on charges of participation in anti-government demonstrations, having a weapon and using violence. His appeals to the Saudi Arabian Specialized Criminal Court and Supreme Court were rejected.
Before April 2020, al-Nimr was awaiting ratification by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, after which his sentence of crucifixion and beheading would be carried out. Dawoud al-Marhoon, who had also been arrested as a 17-year old in 2012 during Eastern Province protests, was also sentenced to death by beheading, in early October 2015. He was tortured during his detention, and was convicted on the basis of a forced confession. As of 2020[update], Ali al-Nimr was still on death row, although the Saudi government has announced that the death penalty will no longer be applied to people convicted as minors, thus tentatively overturning Ali al-Nimr's death sentence.
Subsequent events and tentative pardon
Amnesty International said that the trial was unfair, describing it as "deeply flawed." They claimed refusal by authorities to allow al-Nimr regular access to his lawyer, refusal to allow him pen and paper, refusal to allow his lawyer to cross-examine witnesses, and the failure of authorities to inform al-Nimr's lawyer about the dates of several court hearings. Al-Nimr's appeal was heard in secret.
In September 2015, supporters in the United Kingdom, including Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, put pressure on the UK government to ask Saudi authorities to stop the execution. Christof Heyns, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Benyam Mezmur, the chair of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child, together with other UN human rights experts, also called on the Saudi government to stop the execution and called for al-Nimr to be given a fair trial. On 23 and 24 September, French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls requested Saudi authorities to cancel the execution sentence.
On 27 September 2015, Anonymous claimed to have disabled several Saudi Arabian governmental websites for a few hours in protest against the death sentence, stating that: "Anonymous will not stand by and watch. We cannot and will not allow this to happen." As of 2 October 2015[update], a petition launched by Avaaz calling for the sentence to be cancelled had gathered more than a million signatures in less than 24 hours.
In April 2020, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the death penalty shall no longer be applied to people who were convicted as minors under 18 years of age, and will instead be replaced with placement in a juvenile detention facility for a period not exceeding 10 years at the maximum, thus tentatively overturning Ali al-Nimr's death sentence.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was born in Al-Awamiyah, Saudi Arabia. He attended the Altarfih al-Sahil High School. While he was in prison, he completed his high school education. He also enjoys and played football, and his favorite sports team is AC Milan. He has one older brother and one older sister. Ali al-Nimr is a nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, an independent Shia Sheikh who was popular among the youth and a prominent critic of the Saudi Arabian government. Sheikh Nimr was arrested on 8 July 2012, sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court on 15 October 2014 for anti-government activities, and executed on or shortly before 2 January 2016. Ali al-Nimr's family believes that this relationship is the reason for his arrest and sentencing.
- Israa al-Ghomgham – Eastern Province human rights activist tentatively sentenced to death in August 2018
- Human rights in Saudi Arabia
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