The Justice of Saudi Arabia executed seventeen men accused of crimes related to drug trafficking since last November 10, when a 21-month moratorium on the death penalty for this type of crime ended, denounced this Tuesday the United Nations Office for Human Rights.
The spokesperson for the High Commissioner Elizabeth Throsellwho described the end of the moratorium as “deeply regrettable”, explained that executions in the past two weeks were by beheading and were not carried out in public. “The resumption of executions for drug offenses in Saudi Arabia is a decision we deeply regret, all the more so considering that it comes just days after a vast majority of countries called at the UN General Assembly for a global moratorium. of the death penalty,” Throssell told a news conference in Geneva.
The spokesperson explained that Applying the death penalty for drug-related offenses is incompatible with international norms and principles. “We call on the Saudi authorities to adopt an official moratorium on executions related to drug offenses and to guarantee the right to a fair trial to all accusedincluding those charged with these crimes, in line with their international obligations,” Throssell added.
On the other hand, the UN denounced that the number of detainees who would end up being executed cannot be accessed either. “Since executions are only confirmed after they take place, we have no information on how many people may be on death rowThrossell acknowledged.
The case of Hussein abu al Jeir
Although there is no information on the possible executed, the spokesperson mentioned the case of Hussein abu al Kheir. Throssell stressed that this man’s situation was addressed by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentionswhich found his arrest arbitrary, lacking legal basis and serious concerns about his right to a fair trial.
“We call on the Saudi government to stop the imminent execution of Al Jeir and to comply with the opinion of the working group and withdraw his death sentence, release him immediately and unconditionally and guarantee that he receives medical attention, compensation and other reparations,” the spokeswoman argued.
Hussein abu al Jeir is a taxi driver and is sentenced to death after amphetamine pills were found hidden in his fuel tank. According to the NGO, reprievewho is based in London and is dedicated to defending human rights, the drugs were planted in his vehicle and the man had to confess under torture. Maya Foadirector of the NGO, accused the regime of taking advantage of the distraction of the World Cup to avoid international attention. “The kingdom’s international partners must act now to save Hussein and stop the bloodshed,” Foa claimed.
“While Mohammed bin Salman sat next to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino at the opening match, Hussein Abo al-Kheir was huddled in a cell, terrified the executioner would take him. Hussein, a poor taxi driver, was tortured into making a false confession about drug smuggling.”, denounced Reprieve on his Twitter.
Death penalty in numbers
Of the total number of those executed in recent weeks, there were four Syrians, three Pakistanis, three Jordanians and seven Saudis. In all, Saudi Arabia applied the death penalty to 144 people in 2022. Of these, 47 were executed for political reasons and 56 for murder, according to the UN High Commissioner.
In 2021, according to a report by the NGO Amnesty International, the number of executions also doubled, from twenty-seven to sixty-five. Of the total number of executions, fifty-two were for committing a murder. In forty-five of those cases, a the system what are youthat is, that a punishment equivalent to the crime committed is applied.
“The lives of people sentenced to death for drug-related and other crimes are in danger,” Amnesty International said in a statement last week. This publication was due to the execution of Pakistani citizens who had been charged with heroin smuggling. “Regardless of the crimes committed, no one should suffer this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”, added the NGO.
Non-lethal crimes that are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia include adultery, armed robbery, drug offences, rape, witchcraft and sorcery. However, most of the executions carried out were for drug offences. Executions are normally public, they are carried out in a public square in a city or locality and the most common method is beheadingbut the firing squad is also used.