Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Saudi Arabia Executions - Will 2015 Be A Record-Breaking Year?

Recent news from Saudi Arabia is particularly interesting given that Saudi Arabia has joined the U.S.-led military alliance to combat the Islamic State, particularly in Yemen.  

When King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died in January 2015 and was replaced by King Salman, there was great hope that Saudi Arabia would moderate.  Such does not appear to be the case even though this graphic was published in Arab News, celebrating the "stellar achievements" of the first 100 days of King Salman's rule:

The article states that King Salman "...has won international recognition for his achievements within a short span.". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “King Salman has accomplished in 10 days tasks that new leaders usually took 100 days.”"  It's funny that the "accomplishment" of executing nearly the same number of people in the first five months of the new year as in all of 2014 is not noteworthy.

With that background information, let's get to the subject of this posting.  Here is a recent press release from the Saudi Arabia Press Agency (SPA) which has been translated from Arabic using Google Translate:

"The Interior Ministry issued a statement today on the implementation of the rule of discretionary murder in a drug trafficker in Tabuk, and the statement reads as follows:

God said (but penalty who are fighting Allah and His Messenger and spread mischief on earth to be killed or crucified or their hands and feet cut off from or otherwise put out of the ground that their disgrace in this world and have a great punishment in the Hereafter).

The grace of God was captured invitee/Hussein bin Sulaiman bin Salim al-Amiri - Saudi nationality - when he smuggled a large amount of methamphetamine banned alarm clock and resulted in the investigation to him about his indictment, including rates of him and refer it to the General Court issued against him a legitimate instrument serving on demonstrated what proportions it religiously and discretionary judgment to kill him and sincerity judgment of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and was ordered to spend a royal legitimately decide what enforcement.

The murder was carried out in the offender / Hussein bin Sulaiman bin Salim al-Amiri - a Saudi national - today Wednesday, 07/17/1436 AH in Tabuk.

And the Ministry of the Interior as to announce it to the public confirms the keenness of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques - may God protect him - to fight all kinds of drugs because of the resulting serious damage to the individual, society and the rhythm of the heaviest penalties on the perpetrators approach derived from the law of God the True she warns at the same time all of the offers, however, that the legitimate punishment will be his fate, God and the Pacific to the straight path."

In case you are having difficulty understanding the message of this press release, it regards the recent execution/beheading of one of five men that took place in Saudi Arabia according to this tweet from Peggy Hicks, Global Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch:

As a bit of background, one of the methods used for executions in Saudi Arabia is beheading.  While the world cringes at the beheadings of captives held by ISIS, as shown on this video, the public beheadings of those found guilty (in this case, of killing her seven year old step-daughter with a broom handle inserted into her vagina and anus) is rather brutal:

Here is an interview with one of Saudi Arabia's leading executioners, Abdallah Bin Sa'id Al Bishi:

His weapon of choice is a sword that was used by his father who performed the same job for the Kingdom.  Fortunately, the swords that he uses are not affected by the number of beheadings that he performs.  Note that he says that his son is also training in the "craft".

Saudi law is based on Shari'ah or Islamic Law.  It serves as a guideline for all legal matters in the Kingdom and is derived from three sources; the Holy Qur'an, from the practices and sayings of the Prophet Muhammed and from the Irma' which is the consensus of option of Muslim scholars on the principles involved in a specific legal case.  According to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, Shari’ah presumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and only in serious crimes or in cases of repeat offenders is one likely to witness severe punishments.

According to Amnesty International's annual report Death Sentences and Executions, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran were responsible for 72 percent of the 607 executions that were recorded outside of China in 2014.   During 2014, Saudi Arabia executed at least 90 people, putting them in third place after China and Iran but ahead of Iraq which executed at least 61 people and the United States at 35.  Close to half of the executions in Saudi Arabia during 2014 were for crimes involving killings but the remainder were for non-lethal crimes.  The executions include 42 that were for drug-related offences with the remainder being for kidnapping, torture and rape.  Saudi Arabia uses the death penalty for such non-capital crimes as "sorcery" and "disobeying and breaking allegiance to the ruler".    Two of those ecxecuted were women, there were 53 Saudis, seven Syrians, 32 Pakistanis, two Yemenis, and one each from Iran, the Philippines, India, Turkey and Iraq.  In addition to those executed in 2014, an additional 44 death sentences were passed on new individuals.

Human Rights Watch reports that, over the 17 days from August 4 to 21, 2014, Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 individuals, 8 for non-violent offences including drug smuggling and the aforementioned sorcery.  Here is the press release from SPA reporting on the beheadings of four Saudi smugglers on August 18, 2014:

"The Ministry of Interior said in a statement issued today that four Saudi Smugglers including Hadi bin Saleh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, Mufreh bin Jaber Zaid Al-Yami, Ali bin Jaber Zaid Al-Yami, and Awadh bin Saleh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq were executed in Najran city today because they tried to smuggle a large quantity of hashish into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry said that the General Court convicted the smugglers; the sentence was endorsed by Appeal Court and Supreme Court; and a royal order was issued to execute the sentence.

The Ministry of Interior affirms that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is keen on combating narcotics due to their great harm to individuals and the society, and it warns anyone who tries to commit such actions that he will be punished according to Sharia."

Human rights groups have noted that from January to the end of July 2014, there were 15 executions. By the end of 2014, there were at least 90 executions, showing clearly that there was a significant spike in executions over the last five months of the year.  So far in 2015, there have been at least 85 executions which suggests that Saudi Arabia's accelerated capital punishment program is still in place.  One of the biggest changes in Saudi law which took effect in February after being approved by the Saudi king, has equated dissent against or any form of criticism of the the Saudi regime with terrorism, a crime that is punishable by death.  As well, it is interesting to note that in February 2015, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court confirmed that death sentences where the punishment is left to the judge's discretion can be handed down even if guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If change is coming to Saudi Arabia, it certainly seems to be happening very slowly.  It does seem that the brutal repression of dissent in the Kingdom is being ramped up, a situation that will likely result in even more executions in the future.  But, I guess when you have lots of oil that the Western world needs, it's a wee bit easier for outside governments to turn a blind eye.

Update January 2016:

According to Amnesty International, during the first 11 months of 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 151 people, the highest level since 1995 when 192 executions were recorded.  Of the 151 executions in 2015, 71 were foreign nationals.  This is up substantially over the 90 people executed in 2014.  Amnesty notes that nearly half of this year's executions were carried out for offences that do not meet "the threshold of most serious crimes".  This include 63 people that were executed for drug-related charges, 45 of which were foreign nationals. 


  1. Non-capital crimes as "sorcery" and "disobeying and breaking allegiance to the ruler" and the fact that Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court confirmed that death sentences where the punishment is left to the judge's discretion can be handed down even if guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt these are the biggest issues here. Although watching the women get her head chopped wasn't pleasant, was that really any worse than electrocution or hanging or even the time spent strapped down to a table for a lethal injection? I would say no, the process was very fast once the sword landed its blow that was it, how much pain did she feel? She can't tell us but her yelling stopped right away which means she couldn't yell which means she was more or less dead that very second.

  2. Don't worry Satan himself will carry out you own beheading you devil. You speak as if what you are doing is normal. Devil incanate

    1. If he is already dead and meets Satan why would he even care?