Saudi Arabia: UN human rights experts outraged at execution of seven men by firing squad

GENEVA (13 March 2013) – Two United Nations independent experts on extrajudicial executions, torture, and arbitrary detention today expressed outrage at the execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia, despite repeated calls to the Saudi authorities not to carry out the sentences by the UN and civil society organisations. The executions by firing squad, not beheading as is customary, were carried out earlier this morning.

“I deeply regret that Saudi Arabia executed seven individuals today despite my and other experts’ appeal not to do so,” said the UN the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. “I reiterate that any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a State’s international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution, and is unlawful.”

In an urgent joint appeal to the Saudi Government a few hours before the executions took place, the human rights experts expressed serious concern about the way the trials were conducted.

According to reports, Sarhan b Ahmad b Abdullah Al Mashaikh, Saeed b Hassan b. Ahmad Al Omari Al Zahrani, Ali b. Mohamed b. Hazzam Al Shahri, Nasser b Saeed b Saad Al Qahtani, Saeed b. Nasser b Mohamed Al Yaala Al Shahrani, Abdulaziz b Saleh b Mohamed Al Amri, and Ali b Hadi b Saeed Al Qahtani, were charged with organising a criminal group, armed robbery and raiding and breaking into jewellery stores in 2005, and consequently sentenced to death in Asir in 2009. The charges against all seven persons were allegedly fabricated and all seven were convicted following unfair trials.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, expressed deep concern over allegations that the seven individuals were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and were forced to sign confessions.

“This is not only in breach of Saudi Arabia’s international obligations under the international law, which imposes an outright prohibition on torture, it is also in breach of Government’s international obligation under the convention against torture that explicitly forbids the use of all forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or acquiring information,” he reiterated.


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