United Nations (UN) experts have expressed alarm at a planned execution of three nationals from the Al-Howeitat tribe in Saudi Arabia over the tribes’ rejection of the NEOM project, urging authorities to halt the process.
Despite being charged with terrorism, they were reportedly arrested for resisting forced evictions in the name of the NEOM project and the construction of a 170-kilometre linear city called The Line, the UN experts divulged.
The three men to be executed are Shadly Ahmad Al-Huwaiti, Ibrahim Salih Al-Huwaiti and Atallah Moussa Al-Huwaiti. They were sentenced to death on 5 August, 2022, and their sentences were upheld by the Specialised Criminal Court of Appeal on 23 January, 2023.
Three other members of the tribe were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, the UN experts shared in a statement on the UN website.
Under international law, States that have not yet abolished the death penalty may only impose it for the ‘most serious crimes’ involving intentional killing, the experts explained.
We do not believe the actions in question meet this threshold. All six individuals have been charged under the overly vague 2017 Saudi law on combating crimes of terrorism and its financing.
According to the experts, this law does not appear to align with international law, as raised several times by Special Procedures.
Saudi authorities have carried out a series of actions since January 2020 to evict members of the Al-Howeitat tribe from their homes and traditional lands in three villages – Al Khuraiba, Sharma and Gayal – in the name of the NEOM project.
Despite promises that they would be involved in the process and receive fair compensation, many have allegedly been evicted and their homes demolished without adequate compensation.
During the initial protests, one member of the tribe, Abdul Rahim Bin Ahmed Al-Huwaiti, was killed in his own home by members of the Saudi Special Forces.
We urge all companies involved, including foreign investors, to ensure that they are not causing or contributing to, and are not directly linked to serious human rights abuses, the experts pressed.
Middle East Monitor / ABC Flash Point News 2023.