• Campaigns

Saudi Arabia: Increase in amputations and executions

, Index number: MDE 23/022/2000

Amnesty International is alarmed at the number of executions and amputations that have taken place in Saudi Arabia this year and fears that at least 30 others are at risk of amputation or execution after unfair trials.

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 23/22/00
UA 57/00 Increase in amputations and executions 7 March 2000
SAUDI ARABIA6 people amputated
11 people executed
Amnesty International is alarmed at the number of executions and amputations
that have taken place in Saudi Arabia this year and fears that at least 30
others currently in detention under suspicion of “sorcery” and theft are at
risk of amputation or execution after unfair trials.
Since the beginning of this year there have been 11 executions - four for murder
and six for rape as well as the execution of Hassan bin Awad al-Zubair, a Sudanese
national, on 28 February in Riyadh after he was convicted on charges of
"sorcery". So far this year, six amputations have been carried out. Four of
these were cross-amputations (right hand and left foot), three of which were
for assault and theft of taxi drivers in Riyadh. At this time last year, seven
executions had been carried out, and Amnesty International recorded two
amputations during the whole of 1999.
According to a report in Okaz newspaper on 31 October 1999, 25 people were
under arrest on suspicion of sorcery in the Asir region of the country. Some
or all of these may be at risk of execution.
According to a report in Al-Jazeera newspaper on 26 February, at least five
people have been arrested and reportedly confessed to 159 counts of theft
said to have taken place in Riyadh over the past few years. The penalty for
those found guilty of theft or highway robbery can be the amputation of the
right hand or cross amputation. In cases of repeated theft, the offence may
be considered by the courts to amount to "corruption on earth", for which the
punishment is death. Some or all of the detainees may face amputation or death
if convicted.
Amnesty International considers judicial amputation to be a form of torture
amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment in line with international
human rights law. It therefore considers Saudi Arabia to have violated the
UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, when it became a state party in 1997. The organization is also
concerned that capital trials in Saudi Arabia do not comply with internationally
recognized standards for fair trial. Confessions obtained under duress, torture
or by deception are sometimes admitted in court and may be the sole evidence
on which conviction is based.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for a number of crimes including drug
trafficking, murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy (turning away from Islam)
and anything considered to amount to "corruption on earth". In 1996 ‘Abd al-Karim
Mir’i al-Nakshabandi, a Syrian national, was executed after bing charged with
‘magic and witchcraft’. It is believed that neither he nor his family were
aware of the death sentence until his execution was announced by the Ministry
of the Interior.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the alarming number of executions and amputations
carried out in Saudi Arabia since the start of 2000;
2
- calling for an immediate halt to amputations and executions and the commutation
of any such pending sentences;
- seeking clarification of the identities and legal status of all those arrested
in connection with sorcery and theft;
- urging the authorities not to impose sentences of amputation or death on
any of them.
APPEALS TO (please note that fax numbers to Saudi can be very unreliable):
The Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines
His Majesty King Fahd bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz
Office of H.M. The King, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telegrams: King Fahd, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Salutation: Your Majesty
Minister of the Interior
His Royal Highness, Prince Naif bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz
Minister of the Interior, Ministry of the Interior
PO Box 2833, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telegrams: Interior Minister, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Telexes: 404416
Salutation: Your Royal Highness
Minister of Foreign Affairs
His Royal Highness
Prince Saud al-Faisal bin 'Abdul 'Aziz
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Nasseriya Street, Riyadh 11124
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telegrams: Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Faxes: + 966 1 403 0159
Telexes: 405000
Salutation: Your Royal Highness
Minister of Justice
His Excellency
Dr. ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Telexes: 405 980 MINJUS SJ
Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES TO: to diplomatic representatives of Saudi Arabia accredited to your
country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 18 April 2000.

Choose a language to view report