[QODLink]
Middle East

Rights group says surge in Saudi beheadings

Human Rights Watch says 19 people have been executed in the kingdom since August 4, including one for sorcery.

Last updated: 21 Aug 2014 16:18
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Rights groups called for an immediate halt to the executions which are signed off by the king [AP]

At least 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia this month for offences including drug smuggling and sorcery, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The dead include four Saudi men executed in Najran province on Monday for smuggling hashish, and two foreigners - a Syrian and a Pakistani, accused of the same crime.

Authorities beheaded Saudi national, Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi, on August 5 for allegedly practicing sorcery, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The family of another man, Hajras bin Saleh al-Qurey, who suffers from a mental disability, fear his execution for drug smuggling is imminent.

Doctors who examined him confirmed he had symptoms of mental illness, but concluded that he should be held criminally liable.

Qurey said investigators had pressured him in to confess by placing him in solitary confinement, according to the statement by HRW, which relied on local news reports, court documents and interviews with relatives.

'Disturbing surge'

On Wednesday, Saudi authorities executed a Pakistani national for the murder of an Afghan man, the AFP news agency reported.

At least 34 people have been put to death in the country in 2014, including the 19 people killed in August.

Amnesty International denounced what it called a "disturbing surge" and called on the Saudi government to immediately halt all executions.

"Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said HRW's Sarah Leah Watson.

"The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another dark stain on the kingdom’s human rights record."

The kingdom reserves the death penalty for crimes including murder, robbery, drug smuggling, blasphemy and drug smuggling.

276

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Farmers worry about their future as buyers shun local produce and rivers show an elevated presence of heavy metals.
War-torn neighbour is an uncertain haven for refugees fleeing Pakistan's Balochistan, where locals seek independence.
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
join our mailing list