Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia performs public executions. Current laws allow the death penalty for many violent and nonviolent offenses, including murder; apostasy (no recorded executions); drug trafficking; rape and armed robbery drug offenses; witchcraft; sexual misconduct. Method most often used is beheading by a sword

Saudi executes Pakistani for drug trafficking

Saudi authorities executed a Pakistani man on Sunday for attempting to smuggle drugs into the ultra-conservative kingdom, the interior ministry said.
Up to 129 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia so far this year, including the latest execution, compared with 87 for the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.
Mohammed Sharif was arrested while attempting to smuggle heroin into the country hidden in his stomach, the ministry said in a statement published on the SPA state news agency.
He was executed in the Quwaiya district, near Riyadh.
Most people sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded, but sometimes executions are carried out by firing squad.
Amnesty International on Tuesday appealed for a moratorium on executions in Saudi Arabia, criticising the kingdom’s “deeply flawed judicial system”.
Under Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic legal code, drug trafficking, murder, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.
Amnesty says Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners, along with China, Iran, Iraq and the United States.
Source: Agence France-Presse, August 31, 2015

 

Four executions carried out in Saudi Arabia in one day

Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia, just one day after an international report condemned the country’s frequent use of the death penalty.
This brings the number of judicial killings so far this year to 130, compared to a total of 83 in 2014 – when Saudi Arabia executed more people than any country in the world, except China and Iran.
Riyadh diplomats claims the rise in executions is due to the appointment of more judges, which has then increased the number of cases heard in court.
They deny that increase in executions in 2015 is related to the the ascension of King Salman, who began his reign in January this year.
All four executions took place in different Saudi cities on Wednesday. Three were of Saudi nationals convicted of murder – in Asir Province, the city of Taif and al-Baha Province respectively .
A Syrian man was executed in the northern province of al-Jawf for drug smuggling.
This comes the day after Amnesty International published a highly critical 43-page report on judicial killings in Saudi Arabia.
The conservative kingdom has executed at least 178 people over the past 12 months, on average one person every two days, according to Amnesty.
Nearly half of the 2,208 people executed in the past 30 years have been foreign nationals, with many believed to have lacked sufficient Arabic skills to understand court proceedings.
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of sharia – Islamic law – and applies the death penalty to a number of crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling.
Though not as common, Saudi Courts allow for people to be executed for adultery, apostasy, homosexuality and witchcraft.
People can also be executed for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age.
‘Saudi Arabia’s faulty justice system facilitates judicial executions on a mass scale,’ Said Boumedouha, acting director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement
Most executions in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading, or in some cases by firing squad. In certain cases executions are carried out in public and the dead bodies and severed heads are put on display afterwards.
Often, families of prisoners on death row are not notified of their execution and only learn of their loved one’s fate after they have been put to death, sometimes through media reports.
The conservative kingdom, whose judiciary is composed of clerics, denies its trials are unfair.
Source: Mail Online, August 26, 2015

Rampant executions fuelled by justice system ‘riddled with holes’

  • Death sentences imposed after unfair trials lacking basic safeguards
  • At least 102 executed in first six months of 2015 compared to 90 in all of 2014
  • Average of 1 person executed every two days, most by beheading
  • Almost 1/2 of executions in recent years are for non-lethal crimes
  • At least 2,208 people executed between January 1985 and June 2015
  • Nearly 1/2 of those executed since 1985 were foreign nationals
  • Juvenile offenders, people with mental disabilities among those executed

 

Hundreds of people have been condemned to death after being convicted in unfair trials under Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed judicial system, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
‘Killing in the Name of Justice’: The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia exposes the shockingly arbitrary use of the death penalty in the Kingdom, where the death sentence is often imposed after trials that blatantly flout international standards.
“Sentencing hundreds of people to death after deeply flawed legal proceedings is utterly shameful. The use of the death penalty is horrendous in all circumstances, and is particularly deplorable when it is arbitrarily applied after blatantly unfair trials,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Saudi Arabia’s faulty justice system facilitates judicial executions on a mass scale. In many cases defendants are denied access to a lawyer and in some cases they are convicted on the basis of ‘confessions’ obtained under torture or other ill-treatment in flagrant miscarriages of justice.”
Use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia
Between August 2014 and June 2015 at least 175 people were put to death – an average execution rate of 1 person every 2 days.
1/3 of all executions since 1985 were imposed for offences that do not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’ for which the death penalty may be applied under international law. A large proportion of death sentences in Saudi Arabia – 28% since 1991- are imposed for drug-related offences.
Nearly 1/2 – 48.5% – of people executed in Saudi Arabia since 1985 were foreign nationals. Many of them were denied adequate translation assistance during the trial and were made to sign documents – including confessions – that they did not understand.
Most executions in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading, or in some cases by firing squad. In certain cases executions are carried out in public and the dead bodies and severed heads are put on display afterwards.
Often, families of prisoners on death row are not notified of their execution and only learn of their loved one’s fate after they have been put to death, sometimes through media reports.
Flawed justice system
Saudi Arabia’s Shari’a law-based justice system lacks a criminal code, leaving definitions of crimes and punishments vague and widely open to interpretation. The system also gives judges power to use their discretion in sentencing, leading to vast discrepancies and in some cases arbitrary rulings. For certain crimes punishable under tai’zir (discretionary punishments) suspicion alone is enough for a judge to invoke the death penalty based on the severity of the crime or character of the offender.
The justice system also lacks the most basic precautions to ensure the right to a fair trial. Often death sentences are imposed after unfair and summary proceedings which are sometimes held in secret. Defendants are regularly denied access to a lawyer, or convicted on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture or other ill-treatment. They are also denied the right to a proper, thorough appeal.
Saudi Arabia has vehemently rejected criticism of its use of the death penalty arguing that death sentences are carried out in line with Islamic Shari’a law and only for the “most serious crimes” and with the strictest fair trial standards and safeguards in place.
“Claims that the death sentence in Saudi Arabia is carried out in the name of justice and in line with international law could not be further from the truth. Instead of defending the country’s appalling record, the Saudi Arabian authorities should urgently establish an official moratorium on executions and implement international fair trial standards in all criminal cases,” said Said Boumedouha.
The case of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a cleric from eastern Saudi Arabia and a government critic who was sentenced to death in October 2014, clearly illustrates these shortcomings. He was convicted of vague offences after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial and was denied the chance to prepare an adequate defence. Some of the offences are not recognizably criminal offences under international human rights law.
“The fundamentally flawed nature of Saudi Arabia’s legal system leaves the door wide open for abuse. The authorities are toying with people’s lives in a reckless and appalling manner,” said Said Boumedouha.
“If the authorities wish to show their commitment to rigorous fair trial standards they must implement reforms that will bring Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system in line with international law and standards.”
Pending full abolition of the death penalty, Amnesty International is calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to restrict the scope of its use to crimes involving “intentional killing” in line with international law and standards, and to end the practise of imposing death sentences on juvenile offenders and those suffering from mental disabilities.
Source: Amnesty International, August 25, 2015
Saudi Arabia ‘carrying out one execution every 2 days’
 
More than 100 people were executed in the first 6 months of this year compared to 90 in the previous year, says a new Amnesty report
Saudi Arabia is carrying out executions at a rate of one person every two days, according to a new report.
At least 102 people were executed in the first six months of this year compared to 90 in in the whole of 2014, said Amnesty International on Tuesday.
Most executions in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading, or in some cases by firing squad. Child offenders and mentally ill prisoners are among those who have been killed.
The group said the death penalty was being disproportionately used against foreign nationals, many of them migrant workers with no ability to understand Arabic – the language in which they are questioned while in detention and in which trial proceedings are carried out.
Under the conservative kingdom’s strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery and apostasy are all punishable by death. Rights groups have long criticised the system for its ambiguous nature and a lack of due process.
The kingdom is among the world’s most prolific executioners, consistently featuring in the top 5 countries for capital punishment. The country recently advertised for 8 new executioners to cope with the upsurge in work.
Those beheaded this year include Siti Zainab, an Indonesian domestic worker convicted of murder despite concerns about her mental health. Jakarta summoned Riyadh’s ambassador over her case; a rare diplomatic incident linked to Saudi Arabia’s executions.
The interior ministry has previously cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishments.
Death row prisoners and their families are actively discouraged from any actions which might draw attention to their campaigns, Amnesty said. They are sometimes given assurances that if they do not challenge the authorities’ decisions or violations in the case, such as arbitrary detention and unfair trial, then they might be spared the sword.
A surge in executions began towards the end of the reign of King Abdullah, who died in January. The numbers have accelerated this year under his successor, King Salman, in what Amnesty has called an unprecedented “macabre spike”.
In May, a job advert on a Saudi civil service website advertised for the services of eight new executioners. No special qualifications were needed for the jobs whose main role is “executing a judgment of death” but also involve performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences, the advert said.
The Saudi record was “utterly shameful”, Amnesty said. “The use of the death penalty is horrendous in all circumstances, and is particularly deplorable when it is arbitrarily applied after blatantly unfair trials,” said Said Boumedouha, acting Middle East director.
Source: The Telegraph, August 25, 2015

Saudi Arabia: One of the World’s Most Prolific Executioners

Saudi Arabia remains one of the most prolific executioners in the world. Between January 1985 (the earliest year from when information on executions is available) and June 2015, it executed at least 2,200 people, almost half of whom were foreign nationals.
Over one-third of these executions were carried out for offenses that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. Most of these crimes, such as drug-related offenses, are not mandatorily punishable by death according to the authorities’ interpretation of Sharia law.
Saudi Arabia also continues to sentence to death and execute individuals for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age, in violation of the country’s obligations under international customary law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also in violation of international law, the death penalty in Saudi Arabia continues to be used against people with mental disabilities.
The death penalty is also used disproportionately against foreign nationals, the majority of whom are migrant workers with no knowledge of Arabic—the language in which they are questioned while in detention and in which trial proceedings are carried out. They are often denied adequate interpretation assistance. Their country’s embassies and consulates are not promptly informed of their arrest, or even of their executions. In some cases, their families are neither notified in advance of the execution nor are their bodies returned to them to be buried.
The authorities recurrently fail to abide by international standards for fair trial and U.N. safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. Too often trials in death penalty cases are held in secret, and their proceedings are unfair and summary with no legal assistance or representation through the various stages of detention and trial. Defendants may be convicted solely on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture or other ill-treatment, duress or deception.
The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to claim that they apply the death penalty only for the “most serious crimes” and only following the most rigorous and thorough judicial proceedings. They have argued that the death penalty is an integral component of Sharia law that guarantees the rights of perpetrators and victims alike, and that the death penalty and public executions serve as a deterrent to crime. The authorities’ claims on the use of the death penalty contradict its practice in reality.

Foreign nationals, particularly migrant workers from disadvantaged economic backgrounds who moved to Saudi Arabia from countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, comprise a high and disproportionate number of those executed in Saudi Arabia. Of the total 2,208 executions recorded between January 1985 and June 2015, at least 1,072, or some 48.5 percent, were of foreign nationals. During their trial, their foreign nationality and the fact that they often lack Arabic language skills place them in a particularly disadvantageous position.

Source: Newsweek, Op-Ed, Amnesty International, August 24, 2015

 

Saudi executes Yemeni for killing officer

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday executed a Yemeni convicted of shooting dead a security officer who was trying to arrest him in the southern Jazan region, the interior ministry said.
The Yemeni, who was wanted by the kingdom’s authorities, opened fire at the Saudi officer who was trying to arrest him, said the statement published by the official SPA news agency.
It provided no further details.
The execution brings to 121 the number for this year [as of Aug. 19] in the kingdom, compared with 87 for the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.
Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners, along with China, Iran, Iraq and the United States.
Under the conservative kingdom’s strict legal code, murder, armed robbery, rape, drug trafficking, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.
Executions in Saudi Arabia are almost always carried out by beheading.
The interior ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishments but rights experts have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom.
Source: Agence France-Presse, August 19, 2015

Wife of jailed Saudi blogger launches campaign to free African writer on death row for criticising prophet Mohamed

he wife of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, has launched a campaign to free an African writer who is on death row in Mauritania for criticising the prophet Mohamed.
In an article for The Independent, Ensaf Haider said that while “millions of people around the world” had campaigned for her husband’s release, the case of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir risked being forgotten by the international community.
The 30-year-old journalist was arrested in January last year after publishing an article on the website of the newspaper Aqlame. In it, he criticised the Mauritanian caste system and said that certain social groups were being marginalised because of their religion.
Mr Mkhaitir later “repented” during a pre-trial hearing at a military police station and again during his trial in December last year, telling a court in the city of Nouadhibou he had not meant to insult Islam but intended to denounce those who used religion to belittle others.
Despite Mauritanian law stating that leniency must be shown if a defendant repents, the judge convicted him of having “lack of respect for the prophet” and handed down a death sentence – the 1st imposed in Mauritania for apostasy [sic] since the country gained independence in 1960.
Ms Haider, who has led the international campaign for her husband’s release, said Mr Mkhaitir “could be executed at any time” if pressure was not placed on the Mauritanian government to reconsider his sentence.
“Millions of people around the world rallied to the support of Raif Badawi; who will care for a poor young man in Mauritania?” she wrote. “He will be executed for blasphemy – by those who insist that Isis does not represent Islam.”
Dozens of human rights organisations signed a joint statement in March calling for Mr Mkhaitir to be freed, describing him as “a prisoner of conscience who has not committed any crime but was merely peacefully exercising his right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression and religion”.
However, there have since been no updates on his case. His lawyer told Mauritanian television earlier this year that his condition in prison was “miserable” and that he had been tortured and placed in solitary confinement, Ms Haider said.
Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher, said: “The use of the death penalty is always abhorrent, but it raises additional concerns in cases like that of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir where a dubious law is being used to stifle free speech.
“Mohamed Cheikh’s trial was blatantly flawed and his repentance – which should have entitled him to leniency – was twice ignored by the authorities. We continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
The writer’s case has numerous parallels with that of Mr Badawi, who was arrested in June 2012 over material published on his Saudi Arabian Liberals website. While he has been in prison, the 31-year-old activist has received a number of awards for promoting freedom of expression and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr Badawi has so far only received 1 round of 50 lashes, which are supposed to be carried out weekly. Earlier this month his family learned that the kingdom’s Supreme Court is reviewing his case, raising the possibility that his draconian sentence may be reduced – but Ms Haider says “the flogging could still happen at any time”.
Source: The Independent, August 21, 2015

 

Middle East: Gay People At Risk of Death After Ashley Madison Hack

Gay people who used the dating site could face the death penalty in some countries after their details were exposed by hackers.
People living under oppressive regimes who used the Ashley Madison adultery dating site to arrange secret liaisons could be at risk of prison or the death penalty.
The hacking of the site has exposed millions of people, including hundreds in Saudi Arabia where adultery is potentially punishable by death.
The site was predominantly used by people looking to cheat on their partner, but it is thought that many single gay people used the service to avoid detection by oppressive governments.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, while in Qatar – where 50 members of the site are registered – it carries a 5-year prison sentence.
Sky’s Technology Correspondent Tom Cheshire said one Reddit user based in Saudi Arabia has even fled the country after being exposed.
He said: “Ashley Madison was sold as a way to get casual hook-ups for cheating spouses, but some users in the Middle East say they used it as a discreet way of having meetings with homosexual men who didn’t want to be identified.
“There are 1,200 email addresses with the Saudi Arabia suffix where homosexuals face the death penalty.
“More than 50 accounts are from Qatar where homosexual relationships are punishable by 5 years in prison.
“And there are 1,500 from Turkey where homosexuality isn’t illegal but you can get kicked out of the country or banned from military services.”
Details of the site’s 37 million members were obtained by hackers in July, who demanded that the site be shut down.
This week, with the site still online, they released the data on the dark web.
Among those exposed are civil servants, senior military officers and university professors.
Source: Sky News, August 21, 2015

 

Saudi executes 2 Chadians for killing Frenchman

Victim was shot as he was driving home from supermarket
Saudi Arabia on Thursday executed 2 Chadians for killing a French man last year.
The interior ministry said Eisa Saleh Hassan and Ishaq Eisa Ahmad were found guilty of joining a terrorist organisation and shooting the French national and of monitoring vehicles belonging to a consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah and shooting employees.
The 2 also faced charges of seeking to target foreign nationals and of being in possession of weapons to attack people and undermine security.
The court said the duo followed a deviant ideology that permitted the targeting of some people.
“Despite all steps the two men took to evade justice, the security agencies were able to arrest them and foil their plans,” the interior ministry said.
“Investigations led to levelling charges against them and to referring them to the competent court. The death penalty ruling issued by the judges was upheld by the Court of Appeals and subsequently by the Supreme Court. A royal order was issued to carry out the sentence,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
According to Saudi reports last year, Laurent Barbot, the Frenchman who was killed in September on a quiet residential street in Jeddah by the 2 Chadians, worked for a military technology systems company.
According to Arab Times, Barbot, in his 40s, was shot through the front window of his car while driving back to Al Zahra district’s Sierra Village compound, home to a large expatriate community.
Barbot reportedly was on his way home from a supermarket located less than 400 meters from the residential compound and had to slow down at a speed bump.
At that moment, an unknown car pulled up alongside his vehicle and its occupants opened fire with a machine gun, striking Barbot in the neck and chest.
Source: Gulf News, August 20, 2015