Amnesty Int'l voices concern over spike in Saudi executions

Human rights group says recent rise in use of death penalty in Gulf kingdom is 'disturbing'
Amnesty Int'l voices concern over spike in Saudi executions
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 22 Aug 2014 01:45 AM

The execution of four members of the same family in Saudi Arabia is part of a “disturbing” recent surge in the use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

The two sets of brothers from the same extended family were killed this week in the south-eastern city of Najran after being convicted of “receiving large quantities of hashish”.

It brings the number of state killings in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks to 17 - a rate of more than one execution per day.

Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme’s deputy director, said: “The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration.

"The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice. The death penalty is always wrong, and it is against international law to use it in cases involving non-lethal crimes and where evidence used to convict the person is based on ‘confessions’ extracted as a result of torture.”

The four relatives were put to death despite last-minute efforts from family members to alert the world to their plight.

There has been a surge in executions in Saudi Arabia since the end of Ramadan, with 17 announced between August 4-18, compared to 17 in the last six months.

Saudi Arabia is one of the top executioners in the world, with more than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2013.

In 2013, Saudi executed at least 79 people, three of whom were under 18 at the time of the crimes for which they were put to death, in blatant violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So far in 2014, at least 34 people have been executed.

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