Resumption of executions for drug-related offences: Saudi Arabia


Over the last two weeks executions have been taking place almost daily in Saudi Arabia after the authorities ended a 21-month unofficial moratorium on the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences.

Since 10 November, 17 men have been executed for what are termed drug and contraband offences – the latest three executions on Monday. Those executed to date are four Syrians, three Pakistanis, three Jordanians, and seven Saudis.

As executions are only confirmed after they take place in Saudi Arabia, we do not have any information as to how many people may be on death row. However, according to some reports we have received, a Jordanian man, Hussein abo al-Kheir, may be at risk of imminent execution. His case has previously been taken up by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that his detention was arbitrary because it lacked a legal basis and there were grave concerns relating to his right to a fair trial.

We urge the Saudi Government to halt al-Kheir’s reported imminent execution and to comply with the Working Group’s opinion by quashing his death sentence, releasing him immediately and unconditionally, and by ensuring that he receives medical care, compensation and other reparations.

The resumption of executions for drug-related offences in Saudi Arabia is a deeply regrettable step, all the more so coming just days after a wide majority of States in the UN General Assembly called for a moratorium on the death penalty worldwide.

Imposing the death penalty for drug offences is incompatible with international norms and standards. We call on the Saudi authorities to adopt a formal moratorium on executions for drug-related offences, to commute death sentences for drug-related offences, and to ensure the right to a fair trial for all defendants, including those charged with such offences, in line with its international obligations.

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