Executions rise sharply in Saudi Arabia

Chairwoman Hautala sent on 22 June 2011 a letter to the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia concerning situation of Mr ‘Abdoul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al Fakki and Ms Rizana Nafeek, who have both been sentenced to death and are in imminent danger of execution, as well as the dramatic increasing number of executions in Saudi Arabia during this spring.

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern over the situation of Mr ‘Abdoul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al Fakki and Ms Rizana Nafeek as well as the dramatic increasing number of executions in your country.

It has been reported that Mr Abdoul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al Fakki, a Sudanese man in his 30, has been sentenced to death on 27 March 2007 by the General Court in Madina for sorcery. The proceedings were held mainly in secret and even afterwards little is known of the case against him. I have furthermore understood that throughout the proceedings he had no legal assistance. I understand that he is still being held in Madina Prison and I fear that he is at imminent risk of execution.

I wish to raise also another case of similar matter to your attention. Ms Rizana Nafeek, a 22-year-old Sri Lankan domestic worker, has had her death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court in Riyhad in October 2010, for a crime she allegedly committed while under the age of 18. It has been reported that she was 17 years of age at the time of her arrest. Again, during the proceedings no access to lawyer was granted to her, either during the pre-trial detention or the actual proceedings. It is deeply unsettling that no provisions under national law of Saudi Arabia protect children from the death penalty. As Saudi Arabia is part to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it should ensure that protection of the rights of the child are effectively ensured, especially in cases of this kind where a criminal offence is allegedly committed by person under the age of 18.

In relation to these two cases, I would like to express my concern over the rapidly increasing use of death penalty in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of this year.

It would appear that in the first semester of 2011, there have been 27 executions, the same number that was registered for the whole year of 2010. This information is most disappointing particularly in the light of the encouraging trend in the period of 2007-2010, which counted 143 death sentences executed in 2007, 102 in 2008, 69 in 2009 and 27 in 2010.
While having observed the ongoing negative tendencies, I have remained aware of further 100 prisoners, many of whom are foreign nationals, who still remain on the death row.

Beside the high number of executions, what furthermore alarms me is the wide range of capital offences currently recognized in the legal practice in Saudi Arabia, including not only the gravest offences such as murder but also crimes of lesser severity such as adultery, apostasy, robbery, drug offences, sabotage and corruption on earth. It is needless to note that it is a view widely accepted that those crimes of lesser severity do not automatically belong to the remit of the criminal law practice at all. It is also most necessary to reiterate that in a situation where death penalty should be imposed, it is of primary importance to ensure that procedural safety guards the rigorously applied. This is not the case in Saudi Arabia since it would seem that the death penalty can be invoked by the judge simply if deemed necessary.

As a most urgent call, I wish to urge His Majesty the King to grant clemency to both Rizana Nafeek and ‘Abdoul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al Fakki and thereby commute their death sentences.

Moreover, I call for an immediate moratorium on executions and strongly urge your authorities to commute all death sentences.

I am looking forward to your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Heidi Hautala

Chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights