PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 23/53/00
UA 181/00 Increase in executions and amputations 27 June 2000
Salem bin Talal bin Salem bin Rafadah al-Balawi, Saudi Arabian national
Adam Muhammad Ibrahim, Nigerian national
Shah al-‘Adam Habib Allah, Bangladeshi national
Jamas bin Muhammad Ahmad, Yemeni national
Executions in Saudi Arabia continue at an alarming rate. The four people named
above were executed or had limbs amputated between 22 and 26 June 2000. So
far this year Saudi Arabia has executed 61 people, 25 of them in the past month.
It is impossible to know the names of all those on death row or how many face
execution in the coming days and weeks.
Of those executed this year 20 have been Saudi Arabian and 37 foreign nationals,
from Nigeria, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen,
the Philippines, Ethiopia, Egypt and Iraq. The nationality of four others
is not known.
The number of reported amputations as punishment has also increased
significantly this year. To date Amnesty International has recorded 27
amputations, seven of which have been cross amputations - amputation of the
right hand and left foot. The organization recorded two amputations in the
whole of 1999.
While Amnesty International does not know how many people are on death row
or how many face amputation, the organization fears that there are many more
people currently in Saudi Arabian prisons, who could lose their lives or limbs
tomorrow, or at any time in the weeks and months to come. Most, if not all,
will have been sentenced after grossly unfair trials in which even the most
basic rights, such as the right to be defended by a lawyer and the right to
an effective appeal, are denied. They may also have been convicted solely
on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, torture or deception.
Amnesty International recognizes the right and responsibility of all
governments to bring to justice those guilty of recognizably criminal offences.
However, Amnesty International is fundamentally opposed to the death penalty
as the ultimate violation of the right to life and considers the cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishment of judicial amputation to be a form of torture. The
organization is committed to defending all people against the violations of
these fundamental and internationally recognized rights, in line with Articles
3 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences which,
in addition to violent crimes, include some with no lethal consequences, such
as sorcery and drug-related offences. Punishment by amputation is enforced
in Saudi Arabia for offences mainly limited to cases of theft, for which the
sentence is amputation of the right hand, and highway robbery, which is punished
by cross amputation. Under international human rights standards the use of
these punishments is contrary to the prohibition of torture and other cruel