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Death Penalty Database

Saudi Arabia

Information current as of: April 4, 2011

General

Official Country Name

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabia). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (Western Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Beheading. [4]
Sources indicate that public beheading is probably the common method of execution in Saudi Arabia. The condemned are sedated prior to execution. [5]

Stoning. [6]
Public stoning can be used to execute individuals who have been convicted of acts such as adultery. The condemned are sedated prior to execution. [7]

Comments.
There are reports that at least one execution in January 2009 and two in 2008 may have taken place by shooting. [8] Over the past few years, reported executions have been almost exclusively by beheading, [9] despite the prevalence of media discussion of the possibility of death by stoning. There are reports that Saudis have exposed the body (with head sewn back on) of the condemned to public indignity, including crucifixion, after execution for the crime of highway robbery resulting in death. [10]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Saudi Arabia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3584.htm, Apr. 5, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Death Penalty News, Saudi Arabia: 6th execution in 2010, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2010/02/saudi-arabia-6th-execution-in-2010.html, Feb. 21, 2010.
[4] CNN, Lawyer: Beheading planned in Saudi sorcery case, http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/03/31/saudi.arabia.sorcery/index.html, Apr. 1, 2010.
[5] Richard Clark, The History of Beheading and Decapitation, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/behead.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
[6] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 10, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s extensive use of capital punishment, p. 2, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001; Helen Chapin Metz, Saudi Arabia: A Country Study, 5th ed., Crime and Punishment, Washington D.C.: The Division, 1993.
[8] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, The History of Beheading and Decapitation, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/behead.html, accessed Sep. 7, 2010.
[9] Richard Clark, Executions Worldwide, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/world.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010. See this page and the links to month-by-month tabulation to confirm that reports of executions have been of beheadings except in one case in 2009.
[10] Brian Evans, An Execution and Crucifixion in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty Intl. Human Rights Now, http://blog.amnestyusa.org/deathpenalty/an-execution-and-crucifixion-in-saudi-arabia/, Jun. 2, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 8, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008; ECPM, Bodies Exposed in Public, http://www.abolition.fr/ecpm/french/news.php?new=783, May 16, 2010.

Country Details

Language(s)

Arabic. [1]

Population

28,000,000. (2008 estimate). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

Dozens or possibly hundreds are believed to be on death row, [3] but no official data is available and we cannot confirm an exact figure. The imposition of death sentences is shrouded in secrecy. Amnesty was able to confirm 10 new death sentences in 2012, 6 in 2013 and 44 in 2014, but noted in each case that the real number was likely much higher. [4]

(This question was updated on October 9, 2015.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2016 to date (last updated on November 29, 2016)

According to Human Rights Watch, there have been 134 executions in 2016. [5]

Executions in 2015

There were 158 executions in 2015 according to Human Rights Watch and Reprieve. [6] Amnesty International confirmed that there were at least 158 executions but believes that more were carried out. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

1 execution per 177,215 persons

Executions in 2014

At least 90. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

1 execution per 321,839 persons

Executions in 2013

At least 79. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

1 execution per 358,974 persons

Executions in 2012

At least 79. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

1 execution per 354,430 persons

Executions in 2011

At least 82. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

1 execution per 341,463 persons

Executions in 2010

26 [12] or 27. [13]

Executions in 2009

At least 69. [14]

Executions in 2008

At least 102. [15]

Executions in 2007

At least 143. [16]

Year of Last Known Execution

2016. [17]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Saudi Arabia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3584.htm, Apr. 5, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Saudi Arabia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3584.htm, Apr. 5, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 9, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[5] Ben Hubbard, Saudi Arabia executes a prince convicted in a fatal shooting, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-prince-executed-salman.html?_r=0, The New York Times, Oct. 18, 2016.
[6] Reprieve, Executions surge among UK’s allies, http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/executions-surge-among-uks-allies-new-figures/, Jan. 6, 2016. Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: mass execution largest since 1980, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/04/saudi-arabia-mass-execution-largest-1980, Jan. 4, 2016.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2015, ACT 50/3487/2016, Apr. 6, 2016.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[12] United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights and Democracy: The 2010 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report, p. 266, March 2011.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[17] AFP, Saudi executes Yemeni for killing employer, http://tribune.com.pk/story/1027413/saudi-executes-yemeni-for-killing-employer/, Jan. 14, 2016.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Aggravated murder may be punishable by death as both hadd and qisas. [1] This offense may include (but not be limited to) offenses such as murder during robbery or murder involving seclusion, treachery, or other methods rendering the victim helpless (or that have the effect of spreading terror)—in this case, the murder may be punished by death as hadd. This may not be the Hanbali position, but one Al-Adl (a journal published by the Saudi Ministry of Justice) article adopted this position. [2]

Murder.
Murder is punishable by death as qisas. [3] “Islamic law presumes that any sane person who intentionally kills a person with a weapon, is a sinner deserving perdition according to the Qur’an and that the murderer is subject to retaliation.” [4] Murder is punishable by death as qisas (retaliation) or diya (compensation instead of execution), but there is some disagreement over which circumstances allow qisas. According to the Hanbali schools of Sunni Islam, the offender is subject to death as qisas if “the killer intended to kill and employed some means likely to have that result.” [5] It is also possible that courts might apply the principle that intentional killing or intentional infliction of serious and permanent bodily harm allows application of the talion principle [6] and therefore the death penalty if the offense results in death.

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Killing without intent may be punishable by death as hadd, but probably not as qisas. [7] This offense may include (but might not be limited to) robbery resulting in death. For most schools, including the Hanbali school, all participants in a group robbery resulting in death were punishable by death, regardless of cause or intent. [8]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
By Fatwa issued on August 30, 1988, acts of terrorism (as “corruption on earth”) carry the mandatory death penalty; the ambit of this Fatwa is unclear. [9] The description of this offense as “corruption on earth” suggests that the penalty may be hadd. “Contemporary scholars of Islamic Shari’a adopt the view that terrorism is included under the crime of hiraba, or waging war against God and his Apostle and making or spreading corruption on earth,” [10] although analysis on this matter has not been comprehensive, [11] and the position seems more developed by the Maliki school of Sunni Islam and the Shi’a schools than by the Hanbali school. [12]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
By Fatwa issued on August 30, 1988, acts of terrorism (as “corruption on earth”) may carry the mandatory death penalty; the Fatwa does not specify that such acts must result in death, and its ambit is unclear. [13] The description of this offense as “corruption on earth” could suggest that the penalty is hadd, although it would not be traditional in the Hanbali school (or most schools of Sunni Islam) to apply the death penalty as hadd for non-lethal corruption on earth. [14]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Rape is punishable by death as hadd or ta’zir, depending on the circumstances. [15] For a fuller explanation, see our comments—because the evidentiary requirements for this hadd are demanding, it is more likely that the death penalty is applied as ta’zir for aggravated rape. For instance, rape is reported to result in the death penalty, [16] and further investigation shows that the offender was a serial rapist who secluded and robbed his victims. [17]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Robbery is punishable by death as hadd, but in most schools (including the Hanbali school) only when resulting in death. [18] Otherwise, the death penalty might apply as ta’zir under circumstances such as recidivism or where the offense is aggravated. [19] For instance, a group armed robbery in which a woman was bound, gagged and held at knifepoint in her home [20] and an offense involving rape and armed robbery [21] led to executions, reportedly, at least in part on the grounds of armed robbery. For a fuller explanation, see our comments.

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Some forms of arson might carry a statutory death penalty under a Fatwa on terrorism-related activities. [22]

Burglary Not Resulting in Death.
Burglary can be punished by death as ta’zir under the Hanbali school (and others) of Sunni Islam when there are aggravating circumstances, [23] including recidivism. [24] Burglary has been punished by death when it resulted in armed robbery. [25]

Drug Trafficking Resulting in Death.
According to Amnesty International, under a Fatwa issued around 1987 the death penalty became mandatory for a number of drug offenses; [26] under Royal Decree no. 39 of 2005, the death penalty apparently became discretionary for drug trafficking [27] —although other penalties might be applied for offenses resulting in death.

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
According to Amnesty International, under Royal Decree no. 39 of 2005, the death penalty is applicable for the first offense of drug trafficking, receiving drugs from a trafficker, importing, exporting, manufacturing extracting or growing drugs, or for the recidivist offense of circulating drugs “by selling, donation, distribution, delivery, reception or transportation.” [28]

Drug Possession.
An article published in Al-Adl indicates that not all Saudi appellate courts agree on the correct application of narcotics laws to those who possess drugs—some arguing that those who possess requisite amounts should be presumed to be engaged in trafficking, others arguing that possession should be considered trafficking based on other factors. (A finding of trafficking could trigger the death penalty under Royal Decree no. 39 of 2005). [29]

Adultery.
Zina carries the death penalty as hadd for married persons (and lashing for unmarried persons), under demanding evidentiary showings. [30] For a fuller explanation, see our comments.

Apostasy.
In Saudi Arabia, individuals can be and have been sentenced to death and executed for apostasy. [31] Although there is no contemporary consensus on the treatment of apostasy, it is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. [32] The death penalty for apostasy may be ta’zir, as the Hanbali school does not consider apostasy to carry a hadd punishment, while still allowing for the death penalty. [33] Traditionally, apostates are afforded a period of time to turn back to Islam, [34] but the death penalty still applies under this rule (in jurisdictions that provide for it)—an individual who persists in his opinion will be executed, thus, there is ultimately no freedom to publically adhere to a divergent opinion without being executed. [35]

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Adults of Same Sex.
Judges reportedly treat gay and lesbian sexual relations as zina, applying the penalty of death or lashing according to the circumstances. [36] The schools of Sunni Islam take different positions on the treatment of homosexual and lesbian acts. The Hanbali school treated male sodomy as carrying the penalty of death as hadd, regardless of the marital status of the offender, while lesbianism was punished (under all schools) as a ta’zir offense. In this regard, Saudi jurisprudence is heterodox in that it treats lesbianism as punishable as hadd. [37] The evidentiary requirements for inflicting a hadd penalty are demanding—for further explanation, see our comments.

Treason.
We did not find any codified law on the offense of treason. The conditions under which treason was historically punished by death have been limited. Some scholars have confused the hadd penalty of death for rebellion—which was seen as treason—as a judicially enforceable penalty, but a discussion of the offense of rebellion shows that the hadd penalty, as conceived of by most schools, simply included the right of the ruler to kill when necessary in subduing a rebellion, which might include the right to pursue and dispatch fleeing rebels. Judicially inflicting the death penalty as hadd would require a finding that the rebel was actually spreading “corruption on earth” due to his actions (such as spreading terror) or because the rebel did not espouse a reasonably legitimate cause. This proof is not as simple as demonstrating that the rebel opposed a just authority—and in fact, for most schools (historically) the finding did not turn on whether the authority was just or the rebel was correct. In some cases, groups with heterodox beliefs may have been considered rebels, or, instead, corrupt on earth (these are not the same), although whether this carried a judicial penalty is unclear from the sources we referenced. [38] The Hanbali school of law does not treat rebellion as carrying religiously stipulated penalties, [39] so it may be that the death penalty for treason in Saudi Arabia is awarded as hadd when the offenders are guilty of spreading corruption on earth or as ta’zir if they are simply guilty of rebellion. Amnesty International suggests that the category of “corrupt on earth” is used as a justification for ta’zir punishment of political crimes, and does not differentiate between rebellion and corruption on earth; we are not sure whether this is due to a lack of clarity about the law or to judicial practices. [40] It might be likely that the death penalty as hadd for treasonable offenses would usually be construed as a penalty for terrorism.

Espionage.
The death penalty might be applied as ta'zir for espionage. [41]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Offenses such as treason and disloyalty are punished severely; other offenses would seem not to carry the death penalty (except when falling under the jurisdiction of a Sharia court, which might apply the death penalty). [42] We did not find any recent statutory law or description of the punishment of offenses by military personnel.

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Consumption of Intoxicants. Partaking of intoxicants has been considered a hadd offense with the penalty of whipping. [43] Recidivism might be a grounds for execution; [44] one Al-Adl article suggests that execution is possible for recidivist alcohol consumption and that some jurists might consider the death penalty for recidivism hadd. [45] Consumption of any intoxicant could be treated similarly to consumption of alcohol. [46]
- Sorcery or Witchcraft. Sorcery or witchcraft has been punished by death; [47] this is a ta’zir penalty. [48]
- Ta’zir Offenses. The previous entries discuss statutory penalties (hadd, qisas, or codified penalties) and confirmable cases where death penalties could be awarded as ta’zir. This is not necessarily a full representation of offenses punishable by death, because the death penalty might be awarded as ta’zir “where either the offense itself is of a very serious nature, such as spying for the enemy, propagating heretical doctrines, or practices which split the community, or the criminal is a habitual offender whose wickedness can only be so stopped.” [49] The death penalty might also be awarded as an enhanced punishment for a statutory offense, under some schools. [50] Reports indicate that such punishments do occur. [51]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. Saudi jurists apply the mandatory death penalty for a wide range of offenses, although traditionally each mandatory death penalty is different in its application.

Hudud offenses are considered claims of God, and are described in the Quran, although the penalty for a hadd (singular) offense is usually found in the Sunna. [52] These penalties can “neither be reduced nor augmented.” [53] A hadd penalty should not be awarded unless stringent evidentiary requirements are met, [54] and scholars point out rules suggesting that courts should avoid applying hudud penalties whenever possible. [55] To some extent, this can limit the mandatory nature of the death penalty for hadd offenses, by making it extremely difficult to apply them. It might be possible for Saudi courts to achieve a discretionary, non-arbitrary standard by limiting application of hudud penalties to cases that are particularly egregious and unmitigated by any form of doubt, but we have seen no evidence that Saudi courts apply hadd penalties in a narrow, non-arbitrary fashion—so the death penalty as hadd can be considered mandatory in Saudi Arabia.

Qisas offenses are considered offenses against the individual’s body (such as murder or harm), and some presumptive penalties (and alternatives) are described in the Quran and developed in the Sunna and schools of Islam. These penalties are mandatory in that the victim’s kin (in the case of murder) can freely forgive the murderer or demand compensation in lieu of execution, but otherwise the death penalty is awarded as qisas, ultimately rendering the sentencing decision a non-judicial decision. [56] Under the Hanbali school, traditionally if any heir did not agree to forgive the offender, blood money was payable, [57] and a similar rule may apply in Saudi Arabia. [58] In any case a review of “intentional” murders for which the offenders face the death penalty unless they reach a private settlement with the family will illustrate the degree to which this system fails to incorporate a discretionary aspect that considers relevant factors such as the offender’s culpability and the nature of the offense. [59] At least one scholar has described how Shari’a courts might use discretionary sentencing while still allowing for the qisas-diya system for murder, [60] but there is currently no argument that the Saudi system incorporates a non-arbitrary discretionary aspect to sentencing for murder. The death penalty as qisas is mandatory in Saudi Arabia.

Some penalties might be considered hadd or ta’zir, but in any case as codified the mandatory death penalty applies. [61]

Finally, ta’zir penalties are discretionary (unless they are, by a statute, defined as mandatory), but it is relevant whether courts apply the death penalty in a mandatory fashion. For instance, the death penalty for apostasy is ta’zir under the Hanbali school, but the traditional Hanbali position was still that the death penalty should be applied. [62] Commentary in Al-Adl, a journal published by the Saudi Ministry of Justice, indicates some disagreement over whether the death penalty for some recidivist offenses is hadd or ta’zir. [63] While we do not enumerate these as carrying the mandatory death penalty, further research could show that the death penalty is applied in a mandatory fashion for these or other offenses. Arbitrariness or unequal treatment of different defendants due to different standards of judging during the trial might be limited by the requirement of unanimity among 5-judge appeals panels charged with confirming the death penalty for discretionary sentences [64] —presumably, this requirement could conform sentencing to discretionary standards, but it might not if judges agreed that a ta’zir offense should carry the death penalty regardless of individual circumstances.

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Aggravated Murder.
Aggravated murder may be punishable by death as both hadd and qisas. [65]

Murder.
Murder is punishable by death as qisas. [66]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Killing without intent may be punishable by death as hadd, but probably not as qisas. [67] The penalty may apply to all participants in an armed robbery resulting in death, regardless of individual cause or intent.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
By Fatwa issued on August 30, 1988, acts of terrorism (as “corruption on earth”) carry the mandatory death penalty; the ambit of this Fatwa is unclear. [68]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
By Fatwa issued on August 30, 1988, acts of terrorism (as “corruption on earth”) carry the statutory mandatory death penalty; the Fatwa does not specify that such acts must result in death, and its ambit is unclear. [69]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Rape is punishable by death as hadd or ta’zir, depending on proof. [70]

Drug Trafficking Resulting in Death.
According to Amnesty International, under a Fatwa issued March 11, 1987 the death penalty became mandatory for a number of drug offenses; [71] under Royal Decree no. 39 of 2005, the death penalty apparently became discretionary for drug trafficking. [72] However, a killing during drug trafficking might be treated as a hadd or qisas offense, depending on the circumstances.

Adultery.
Zina carries the death penalty as hadd for married persons (and lashing for unmarried persons), under demanding evidentiary showings. [73] Under traditional rules (discussed in the preceding questions and their Comments), execution of a death sentence for adultery might be unlikely.

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Adults of Same Sex.
Judges reportedly treat gay and lesbian sexual relations as zina, applying the penalty of death or lashing according to the circumstances. [74] In Saudi Arabia, the death penalty for homosexual sodomy or lesbianism applies as hadd, depending on proof. [75]

Treason.
Treason might carry a hadd death penalty, although the circumstances under which a judicial hadd penalty would traditionally apply might be limited to terrorism-related offenses, or might include holding heterodox opinions--without more information we cannot describe the scope of this offense in Saudi Arabia.

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Aggravated Murder. [76]

Murder. [77]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death. [78]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
(Aggravated Rape). [79]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
(Aggravated Robbery). [80]

Burglary Not Resulting in Death.
(Aggravated Burglary). [81]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death. [82]
Individuals have been executed for offenses that included kidnapping; it is unclear whether individuals have been executed simply for kidnapping. We did not categorize kidnapping as a separate death eligible offense recognized by any specific law, but it is possible that death sentences were awarded as ta'zir for kidnapping.

Drug Trafficking Resulting in Death. [83]
Individuals have been executed for “drugs and murder.”

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death. [84]
Individuals have been executed for unspecified drugs offenses.

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Assault and Attempted Rape. [85] Individuals have been executed for physical assault and attempted rape; it is unclear how the court justified this decision.
- Gang Leadership. [86] A man was executed for leading a gang that committed robberies and dealt drugs.

Comments.
Capital Punishment U.K. reports that in 2010, Saudi Arabia executed 26 men for murder, rape or drug-related offenses—a drop in the number of executions and scope of the death penalty compared to the several preceding years. [87]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Pregnant Women.
The execution of pregnant women is anathema to the rights of the child set forth in the Quran and Sunna, although the woman may be sentenced to death. [88] Additionally, Saudi Arabia has ratified the Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, [89] which prohibits execution of pregnant women as contrary to the interests of the infant. [90]

Women With Small Children.
The execution of nursing women is anathema to the rights of the child (until the child is two years old) set forth in the Quran and Sunna, although the woman may be sentenced to death. [91] Saudi Arabia has ratified the Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights (2004), [92] which prohibits execution of nursing women as contrary to the interests of the infant for at least two years after giving birth. [93]

Mentally Ill.
Saudi courts appear to recognize that under limited circumstances, a person who does not have mental awareness of the consequences of his acts is not criminally responsible beyond payment of compensation. [94] Those who are aware of the bad consequences of their acts but unable to control their behavior due to insanity might not be excepted from hadd (mandatory) or qisas punishments but can be excepted from tazir (discretionary) punishments. Those who are insane but could be argued to have the ability to control their actions might not be excused from punishment. The extent to which an individual’s judgment is compromised by his mental illness is a question that is left to the courts to determine, and not all individuals with mental illnesses are excluded from the death penalty. One judge, for example, recently wrote about his decision to sentence a man with a schizophrenic disorder to death as qisas for murder (focusing somewhat on the interaction of self-medication attempts with the individual’s illness). [95]

Comments.
Shari’a principles traditionally exclude youthful offenders from execution, [96] and are consistent with excluding from execution those under the age of 18 at the time of their offenses. It is presently unclear whether Saudi law prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders. Although Saudi Arabia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it entered “reservations with respect to all such articles as are in conflict with the provisions of Islamic law. [97] The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has ratified, [98] prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders unless otherwise provided by law. [99] Saudi Arabia is also a party to the Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam; however, this covenant might not prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders. [100]

In 2006, the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its Concluding Observations expressed concern over Saudi Arabia’s practice of allowing a judge discretion to order the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18 upon his determination that the offender had reached majority before that age. [101] In 2009, the Human Rights Council recommended that Saudi Arabia amend its Criminal Procedure Code to explicitly exclude those under 18 at the time of committing an offense from the death penalty; Saudi Arabia accepted the recommendation “in accordance with its commitments undertaken under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” [102] The Saudi government’s acceptance of the recommendation of the Human Rights Council came a month after the government beheaded two men for crimes committed as juveniles. [103] One maid on death row during our research was 17 (although she had falsified her passport to claim otherwise in order to enter the country to work) at the time she committed what appears to be an accidental killing. [104]

Saudi courts appear to recognize a person who does not have mental awareness of the consequences of his acts is not criminally responsible beyond payment of compensation. [105] The execution of individuals who cannot satisfy the requirement of intent (or voluntariness in contributing testimonial evidence) is traditionally prohibited under Shari’a rules, and this has—historically—affected the competency of intellectually disabled individuals to face capital charges and whether a court may find premeditation and understanding sufficient for criminal liability. [106] We do not know the application of this principle in Saudi Arabia.

This has also historically affected the competency of insane individuals to stand trial for capital charges and whether a court may find premeditation and understanding sufficient for criminal liability. [107] It has also affected whether an individual who becomes insane after a verdict can be executed, especially if the offender’s testimony was used against him. [108] Intoxication, while (if voluntary) not necessarily preventing criminal liability, may exclude the application of hudud and qisas penalties (thus likely excluding the death penalty). [109] Our review of a Saudi judge’s decision-making in sentencing a schizophrenic individual to death did not suggest that these rules are strictly adhered to. [110]

References

[1] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[2] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 260-261, Cambridge University Press, 2001; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Dr. Hishaamibn Saalih Az-Zeer, Treacherous Murder, p. 86-87, 98, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 43.
[3] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[4] Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 86, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[5] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982. Note that for the Hanafi school, the death penalty could be awarded as ta’zir for a murder committed without use of means particularly likely to result in death. Id. at p. 109.
[6] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-204, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[7] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[8] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 75-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, pp. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[10] Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 41, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.
[11] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 6, 21, 47, 234-320, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[12] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-77, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 234-320, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, pp. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[14] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 6, 21, 47, 47, 234-320, Cambridge University Press, 2001; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[15] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 68, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 14, American Trust Publications, 1982. But see Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[16] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan10.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
[17] ExecutedToday.com, 2010: Salah ibn Rhaidan ibn Hailan Al-Johani, Medina Serial Rapist, http://www.executedtoday.com/2011/01/11/2010-salah-ibn-rihaidan-ibn-hailan-al-johani-medina-serial-rapist/, Jan. 11, 2010.
[18] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 261, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[19] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 108-110, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[20] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Hands Off Cain, Saudi Arabia: Three Burmese Immigrants Beheaded, http://www.handsoffcain.info/archivio_news/200801.php?iddocumento=10301566&mover=0, Jan. 23, 2008.
[21] Richard Clark, Executions in May 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/may08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
[22] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, pp. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[23] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 108-110, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[24] Dr. Hamad bin Ibraheem bin Abdul Azeez Ash-Shitwee, Punishment of Committing Theft for the Fifth Time: An Objective Study, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37.
[25] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Hands Off Cain, Saudi Arabia: Three Burmese Immigrants Beheaded, http://www.handsoffcain.info/archivio_news/200801.php?iddocumento=10301566&mover=0, Jan. 23, 2008.
[26] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 2, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[27] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 9-10, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[28] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 9-10, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 9-10, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008; Ibraheem bin Saalih Al-Zughaibee, Degrees of Conviction in Cases of Narcotics and Other Cases Related to Textual and Discretionary Punishments, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 38.
[30] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 14, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64-67, 217, 250-253, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996. But see Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[31] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 9, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 9-10, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008; International Commission of Jurists, Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Saudi Arabia, p. 7, Sep. 2008.
[32] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 49-64, American Trust Publications, 1982; M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 277, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997; M. Cherif Bassiouni, Leaving Islam is Not a Capital Crime, Chicago Tribune, Apr. 2, 2006.
[33] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 56, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Dr. Abdur-Rahmaanibn 'AaydAal-'Aayd, Rights of Individuals Regarding Crimes that Require Hudood Punishments, p. 84-85, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 40.
[34] The Maliki and Shafi’i schools applied the death penalty as hadd, while the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam and the Shi’a Imamiyah applied the death penalty as hadd for men, while imprisoning apostate women. The Hanbali school did not acknowledge the death penalty as a hadd penalty, but applied it as ta’zir. Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 49-64, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 80-81, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Dr. Abdur-Rahmaanibn 'AaydAal-'Aayd, Rights of Individuals Regarding Crimes that Require Hudood Punishments, p. 84-85, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 40, http://www.moj.gov.sa/adl/ENG/Default.aspx, accessed Aug. 20, 2010.
[35] For a contrary view, see Robert Postawko, Towards an Islamic Critique of Capital Punishment, p. 290-293, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 1, p. 269, 2002.
[36] Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saudi Arabia: The situation of homosexuals, including treatment by authorities and legal penalties, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3f7d4e1238.html, Aug. 16, 2002.
[37] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 67-68, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109, American Trust Publications, 1982. Scholars adhering to the accepted definition of adultery as “[s]exual intercourse between a man and a woman without legal right or without the semblance of a legal right,” El-Awa at p. 14, state that any sexual contact other than penetration of the male organ into the female organ is not adultery and should not be punished as hadd. Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 38-44, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. This may be related to dispute over whether a later-revealed piece of legislation (Surah XXIV, abrogating earlier rules) fully addressed the issue of homosexual acts. El-Awa at p. 14-15.
[38] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 21, 234-320, 324-327, Cambridge University Press, 2001. Other resources stating that rebels who fight until subdued (as opposed to until arrested) are subject to the death penalty as hadd could be interpreted as acknowledging that the ruler may kill a rebel who fights to the death. See, for example, M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 197-198, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[39] Dr. Abdur-Rahmaanibn 'AaydAal-'Aayd, Rights of Individuals Regarding Crimes that Require HudoodPunishments, pp. 84-85, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 40.
[40] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 11, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 8, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[41] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[42] Helen Chapin Metz, Saudi Arabia: A Country Study, 5th ed., Military Justice, Washington D.C.: The Division, 1993.
[43] Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 55, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[44] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 108-109, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[45] Dr. 'Ali ibnRaashid ad-Dubayyaan, Alcoholic Beverages: Legal Punishment and Detrimental Effects, pp. 202-205, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37.
[46] Ibraheem bin Saalih Al-Zughaibee, Degrees of Conviction in Cases of Narcotics and Other Cases Related to Textual and Discretionary Punishments, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 38.
[47] Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam and Reengaging Morality, p. 53, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 2, p. 33, 2002; BBC News, Saudis “give Lebanese sorcerer stay of execution,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8600398.stm, Apr. 2, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Saudi Arabia “Sorcery” Death Sentence Upheld, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/saudi-arabia-sorcery-death-sentence-upheld-2010-03-18, Mar. 18, 2010 (appeals court decision); Amnesty Intl., Saudi Arabian Court Rejects “Sorcery” Death Sentence, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/saudi-arabian-court-rejects-sorcery-death-sentence-2010-11-12, Nov. 12, 2010 (Supreme Court decision overturning the death sentence in this case).
[48] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 8, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109, American Trust Publications, 1982. Additionally, “sorcery” and “witchcraft” are not enumerated as hadd offenses in any source we have encountered.
[49] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[50] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 110, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[51] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 10, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 8, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[52] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 1, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 62-63, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[53] Ali Akram Khan. Sherwani, Impact of Islamic Penal Laws on the Traditional Arab Society, p. 47, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1993. Awarding an augmented penalty in conjunction with a hadd offense is possible, but this would be considered a ta’zir penalty. Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109-110, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[54] S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 168-200, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961.
[55] For example, see M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 272 fn. 9, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997.
[56] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 69-85, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[57] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[58] AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010.
[59] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010;
[60] Erik C. Owens, et. al., eds., Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning, p. 73-105, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004 (chapter written by Khaled Abou El Fadl).
[61] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, pp. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[62] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 56, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[63] Dr. 'Ali bin Raashid ad-Dubayyaan, Alcoholic Beverages: Legal Punishment and Detrimental Effects, pp. 202-205, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37; Ibraheem bin Saalih Al-Zughaibee, Degrees of Conviction in Cases of Narcotics and Other Cases Related to Textual and Discretionary Punishments, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 38; Dr. Hamad bin Ibraheem bin Abdul Azeez Ash-Shitwee, Punishment of Committing Theft for the Fifth Time: An Objective Study, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37.
[64] Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: Criminal Justice Strengthened—Shura Council Approves Legal Aid Program, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/14/saudi-arabia-criminal-justice-strengthened, Jan. 14, 2010.
[65] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[66] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[67] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 76-79, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 8, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[68] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[69] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 2-3, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[70] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 68, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 14, American Trust Publications, 1982. But see Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[71] Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, p. 2, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.
[72] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 9-10, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[73] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 14, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64-67, 217, 250-253, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996. But see Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[74] Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saudi Arabia: The situation of homosexuals, including treatment by authorities and legal penalties, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3f7d4e1238.html, Aug. 16, 2002.
[75] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 67-68, 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 109, American Trust Publications, 1982. Scholars adhering to the accepted definition of adultery as “[s]exual intercourse between a man and a woman without legal right or without the semblance of a legal right,” El-Awa at p. 14, state that any sexual contact other than penetration of the male organ into the female organ is not adultery and should not be punished as hadd. Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 38-44, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. This may be related to dispute over whether a later-revealed piece of legislation (Surah XXIV, abrogating earlier rules) fully addressed the issue of homosexual acts. El-Awa at p. 14-15.
[76] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in April 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/apr08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in October 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/oct08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Brian Evans, An Execution and Crucifixion in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty Intl. Human Rights Now, http://blog.amnestyusa.org/deathpenalty/an-execution-and-crucifixion-in-saudi-arabia/, Jun. 2, 2009; Richard Clark, Executions in April 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/apr09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in August 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/aug09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in December 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/dec09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
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[79] ExecutedToday.com, 2010: Salah ibn Rhaidan ibn Hailan Al-Johani, Medina Serial Rapist, http://www.executedtoday.com/2011/01/11/2010-salah-ibn-rihaidan-ibn-hailan-al-johani-medina-serial-rapist/, Jan. 11, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in April 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/apr08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in May 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/may09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in May 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/may08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in October 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/oct08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in November 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/nov08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in December 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/dec08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in January 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in February 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/feb09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in April 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/apr09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in May 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/may09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in June 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/june09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in November 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/nov09.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in January 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan10.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
[80] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in May 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/may08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010.
[81] Richard Clark, Executions in January 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan08.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010; Hands Off Cain, Saudi Arabia: Three Burmese Immigrants Beheaded, http://www.handsoffcain.info/archivio_news/200801.php?iddocumento=10301566&mover=0, Jan. 23, 2008.
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[87] Capital Punishment U.K., Overview of the Death Penalty Worldwide in 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/overview.html, last accessed Aug. 6, 2012.
[88] Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 56, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[89] Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the United States, Saudi Arabia ratifies the Arab Charter on Human Rights, http://www.saudiembassy.net/latest_news/news04150902.aspx, Apr. 15, 2009.
[90] Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, art. 7(2), 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[91] Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 56, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[92] Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the United States, Saudi Arabia ratifies the Arab Charter on Human Rights, http://www.saudiembassy.net/latest_news/news04150902.aspx, Apr. 15, 2009.
[93] Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, art. 7(2), 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[94] Dr. Haanee bin Abdullah Muhammad Al-Jubair, Cases and Judgments: Applying the Sentence of Qisaas against a Person with a Psychiatric Disorder, pp. 257-258, Al-Adl Vol. 40.
[95] Dr. Haanee bin Abdullah Muhammad Al-Jubair, Cases and Judgments: Applying the Sentence of Qisaas against a Person with a Psychiatric Disorder, pp. 254-258, Al-Adl Vol. 40.
[96] S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 138, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961
[97] Status, Declarations and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
[98] Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the United States, Saudi Arabia ratifies the Arab Charter on Human Rights, http://www.saudiembassy.net/latest_news/news04150902.aspx, Apr. 15, 2009.
[99] Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, art. 7(1), 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[100] Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam, issued by Royal Decree No. M/54 of 2006, p. 181-192, Al-Adl vol. 34.
[101] U.N. CRC, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, paras. 32-33, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/SAU/CO/2, Mar. 17, 2006.
[102] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia, para. 87(23), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23, Mar. 4, 2009; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia—Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Submitted by the State Party Under Review, para. 38, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23/Add.1, Jun. 9, 2009.
[103] Amnesty Intl. USA, Two Juvenile Executions Are “Deplorable Additions to Grim Tally” in Saudi Arabia, Says Amnesty International, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090511001, May 11, 2009.
[104] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010.
[105] Dr. Haanee bin Abdullah Muhammad Al-Jubair, Cases and Judgments: Applying the Sentence of Qisaas against a Person with a Psychiatric Disorder, pp. 257-258, Al-Adl Vol. 40.
[106] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 187, 192, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Note that some scholars differ, offering no legal explanation (unlike the previous source) and stating that the ability to discriminate between good and evil is the main requirement in determining liability for an intellectually disabled individual. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 91, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[107] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 186-187, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 90-91, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[108] For instance, the condemned may have been convicted in part on testimonial evidence he contributed. If he is executed while insane, this would deprive him of his right to retract his testimony, which he retains in many serious matters. M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 186-187, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. See also S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 174, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961. This author takes some exception to the universality of the rule, but the “number” of jurists he refers to are in a small minority, and the school which he cites is nearly extinct and not one of the major Sunni schools. According to one source, admissions may be withdrawn even during the execution of a sentence, and this terminates the validity of the sentence. Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 46-47, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.
[109] Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 91-92, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 187-188, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[110] Dr. Haanee bin Abdullah Muhammad Al-Jubair, Cases and Judgments: Applying the Sentence of Qisaas against a Person with a Psychiatric Disorder, Al-Adl Vol. 40.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

No. [1]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [2]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [3]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [4]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [5]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Yes. [7]

Date of Accession

April 15, 2009. [8]

Signed?

Yes. [9]

Date of Signature

August 1, 2004. [10]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [11]

Vote

Against. [12]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [13]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [14]

Vote

Against. [15]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [16]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [19]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Against. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

Against. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [25]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[7] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[8] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[9] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[10] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[11] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[12] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[13] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[14] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[15] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[16] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[17] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[18] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[19] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[20] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[21] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[22] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[23] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[24] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[25] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Saudi Arabia's Basic Law incorporates the Quran and Sunna as the nation’s constitution and provides that “[the] State protects human rights in accordance with the Islamic Shari’a.” [1] Describing what this means is somewhat complicated by the advent of Wahhabism and then Salafism, which diminish the importance of the juristic schools in determining law. [2] This is problematic when describing the laws of a country like Saudi Arabia, hailed as the “accredited centre of the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence,” [3] but actually the flashpoint of Wahhabism and Salafism. [4] However, some principles of law may be common. Shari’a law historically recognizes certain principles that can be thought of as fundamental constitutional principles of law. Those that relate to the death penalty include legality and non-retroactivity, [5] the presumption of innocence [6] and the requirements of a fair trial, [7] habeus corpus [8] and judicial review. [9] The Arab Charter on Human Rights (which Saudi Arabia has ratified) [10] is consistent with Shari’a principles, and recognizes the right to a fair trial and not to be arbitrarily deprived of life, among other rights. [11]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The Basic Law provides that “the implementation of [the Basic Law] will not prejudice the treaties and agreements signed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with international bodies and organizations.” [12] This suggests that international human rights agreements entered by Saudi Arabia should have an impact on the application of domestic law. Saudi Arabia has ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights as revised in 2004. [13]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

In 2008, Amnesty International reported a sharp increase in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia, with their number increasing from about 50 per year in the mid-1980’s [14] to almost 150 in 2007. [15]

Not all developments over that time period were negative. In 2001, Saudi Arabia responded to requests that it codify its penal law by enacting a criminal procedure code and other laws protecting the right to a fair trial. While this code does not fully protect defendants facing capital charges, it is a step forward regarding limitations on detention and at least formal recognition of the right to representation. [16]

Saudi Arabia executed significantly fewer people in 2010 than in previous years. [17] In fact, Capital Punishment U.K. reports that in 2010, Saudi Arabia executed 26 men for murder, rape or drugs offenses—a large drop in the number of executions and serious restriction of the scope of the death penalty compared to the several preceding years. [18] Notably, in 2009, Saudi Arabia accepted the Human Rights Council’s recommendation that it protect the rights of individuals facing the death penalty, particularly regarding international safeguards. [19] In that same year, Saudi Arabia ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights, [20] which restricts application of the death penalty to the most serious offenses and provides for a non-derogable right to life, protection against arbitrary deprivation of life and prohibition against inhuman treatment. [21] In 2009, Saudi Arabia also stated its acceptance of the Human Rights Council’s recommendation that it not apply the death penalty for crimes committed by juveniles, [22] albeit a month after beheading two men for crimes committed as juveniles [23] and despite not commuting the death sentence of a maid who was convicted of a murder committed while under the age of 18. [24]

While Saudi Arabia still retains the death penalty by stoning, [25] we found no reports of executions by stoning over the past few years. [26] Reported executions over the past few years have not been for crimes such as adultery. Executions for non-lethal offenses and for the non-violent offense of drug dealing or possession continue to be a concern in Saudi Arabia. [27]

Recently, the Council of Senior Ulema (religious authorities) moved forward with a project to codify Shari’a penal law, with an aim to bringing clarity, uniformity and transparency to legal proceedings. [28]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. [29]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

There may be cases and certainly are judge-driven academic discussions about cases that are at least somewhat elucidating application of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. These discussions establish that there is some disagreement as to whether the death penalty is religiously stipulated (hadd) or discretionary (tazir) for apostasy, recidivist alcohol or cannabis use and theft, and rebellion or corruption on earth (although these are most likely treated as tazir). [30] They also suggest that anti-drug law may be applied expansively, [31] protections for the intellectually disabled or mentally ill [32] are probably limited.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

We did not find a resource for accessing published cases on the death penalty.

NYU Law’s GlobaLex page provides a number of very useful links to law-related resources and scholarship: http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/saudi_arabia.htm#_Toc200894592.

The Al-Adl Journal (published by the Ministry of Justice) posts some recent judge-driven discussions, but the URL of this journal has changed during our research, so a Google search for the website is recommended.

What is the clemency process?

Traditionally, the ruler’s ability to pardon hudud penalties is limited, [33] although penalties can be suspended in some circumstances. [34] Qisas penalties are usually pardoned by the victim’s family, not the ruler. [35] Ta’zir penalties may be pardoned by the public authority. [36] That is the background for the Saudi laws on this matter.

Under Article 220 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, no sentence of death can be executed except pursuant to a Royal Order “issued by the King or his authorized representative.” [37] Under Articles 22 and 23, “public criminal action” (hadd or tazir penalties) lapses upon pardon by the King (or in some cases upon repentance, where pardon would be judicially granted), but “private criminal action” (qisas) carries no hope of government-issued pardon—only the victim’s heirs may pardon the offender, usually after a payment of diyat (blood money). Some public offenses are not pardonable by the King; this implies that while under Article 220 the King need not issue a decree executing a sentence of death as hadd, under Article 22 the King may not be permitted to actually pardon an individual who is under sentence of death awarded as hadd. [38] Pardon may includes the reduction of penalties and is not always a full pardon.

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. Individuals who face the possibility of a death sentence are tried before a 3-judge panel known as a General Court. For those facing death for tazir crimes, the court must either sentence the offender to death unanimously or, in the case of non-unanimity, obtain a 3-of-5 majority upon the addition of two judges to the court for sentencing purposes. [39] The Criminal Procedure Code is silent as to whether a sentence of death may be imposed for hadd or qisas crimes based merely upon a majority vote.

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Defendants facing capital charges are tried before a 3-judge panel known as the General Court. [40] Appeals can be filed up to 30 days after deposit of judgment. After 45 days, with or without the defendant’s filed appeal, the Appellate Court must engage in automatic review of any sentence of death, [41] which cannot be confirmed except by unanimous decision if the sentence is discretionary. [42] Confirmation by the Appellate Court is not final—the Supreme Court must still confirm the sentence. [43] In the case of acquittal at trial, the prosecutor or the individual asserting a private criminal claim (for qisas) has 30 days to file an appeal. [44] While the parties might not always be permitted to appear before the Appellate Court, the Court may review of questions of law and fact, including newly submitted facts, [45] and orders retrial if it finds for the petitioner (whether for a defendant or prosecutor or person exercising a private right of qisas). [46] Our research indicates that prosecutors and those claiming a private right of qisas are not able to appeal a decision of the Appellate Court.

References

[1] Basic Law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, arts. 1, 26, Mar. 6, 1992, translation: International Constitutional Law, Oct. 1993.
[2] S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 51, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961; Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam and Reengaging Morality, p. 68-90, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 2, p. 33, 2002.
[3] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 313, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[4] Because Salifism advocates a unification of Islamic law, this additionally obscures which reasoning a jurist may find more influential in interpreting Islamic law. S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 51, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961; Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam and Reengaging Morality, p. 68-90, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 2, p. 33, 2002; Dr. Hishaamibn Saalih Az-Zeer, Treacherous Murder, p. 86-87, 98, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 43, (a Saudi Ministry of Justice sponsored discussing reasoning from among all schools, and not arriving at the Hanbali position).
[5] The principle of non-retroactivity and legality is pronounced and developed in the Quran and the Sunna. Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 44-45, 64-72, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003. Note that this principle “in its most flexible aspect” when judges adjudicate on ta’zir offenses—where judges enjoy discretionary powers that they should exercise within defined limits. Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 38-44, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. Ta’zir offenses can be inflicted where the Quran or Sunna described an offense but did not provide a penalty, and may also be prescribed by public authorities (as long as the crime and punishment is consistent with the Shari’a) in the public interest—but the death penalty should rarely apply. Ali Akram Khan. Sherwani, Impact of Islamic Penal Laws on the Traditional Arab Society, p. 58-60, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1993; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 213, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Exceptional cases where the ta’zir death penalty may apply are defined in the texts of the various schools of Islamic law—still, it is reasonable to insist on the codification of ta’zir penalties to assure they are not arbitrarily applied. Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 108-109, American Trust Publications, 1982; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 215, 227-229, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. For a discussion of sources of law and early codification in Islamic states, see S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 63-145, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961.

Saudi Arabia—alone among the Islamic states—has yet to fully codify its criminal law, but it reportedly began doing so in mid-2010.

[6] The presumption of innocence is to be at its strongest in the application of hudud and qisas penalties, where the principle of doubt should require the application of a lesser ta’zir penalty if reasonably possible. Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 24-26, 45-46, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003; Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 72-74, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. The requirements of evidence for application of hudud penalties are particularly extreme for offenses such as adultery, excluding any evidence except eyewitness testimony or the freely given confession of the accused in most Sunni schools. Abdel et. al. at p. 38, 47; Sanad at p. 99, 104-105; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 26, 109-122, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 63-64, 146-186, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996. For a discussion of evidentiary rules, see S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 168-200, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961.
[7] Traditionally, Shari’a protects rights related to a fair trial, such as the inadmissibility of forced confessions, an exclusionary rule against evidence gained by illegal search and seizure, and the right to a defense and (though possibly a more modern convention) an attorney. Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 49-51, 81-91, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003; Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 75-84, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 91-107, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Note that procedural defects do not always lead to exoneration. Bassiouni at p. 41. For some discussion of the development of protections related to a fair trial, see Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 246-286, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[8] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 31-32, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[9] Judicial review of law is part of the Shari’a system, as is the right to appeal a court’s determinations. Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 38-39, 63, Intl. Law Inst., 1997; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 334-336, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996 (discussing and reproducing the Criminal Justice Resolution of 1979 of the First International Conference on the Protection of Human Rights in the Islamic Criminal Justice System). However, another source reports that, traditionally, the decision of a Shari’a court could not be appealed, although the court could reverse its own judgment. Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 10, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003. That source contradicts another source that describes the organization of the judicial authority, specifically discussing the appellate authority. Mahmood et. al. at p. 261-262. All or nearly all states applying Islamic law have appellate systems.
[10] Arableagueonline, Ratification of Arab Human Rights Charter Adopted in 23/5/2004 summit (16th) Res 270, http://www.arableagueonline.org/lasimages/picture_gallery/human8-3-2010.PDF, last accessed Feb. 17, 2011.
[11] Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[12] Basic Law of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, art. 81, Mar. 6, 1992, translation: International Constitutional Law, Oct. 1993.
[13] Arableagueonline, Ratification of Arab Human Rights Charter Adopted in 23/5/2004 summit (16th) Res 270, http://www.arableagueonline.org/lasimages/picture_gallery/human8-3-2010.PDF, last accessed Feb. 17, 2011; Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 11, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 5, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008; Capital Punishment UK, Executions Worldwide, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/world.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010. This resource may not tabulate every execution, but the executions it reports do seem to be representative of actual trends.
[18] Capital Punishment U.K., Overview of the Death Penalty Worldwide in 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/overview.html, last accessed Feb. 24, 2011.
[19] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia, para. 87(22), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23, Mar. 4, 2009; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia—Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Submitted by the State Party Under Review, para. 37, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23/Add.1, Jun. 9, 2009.
[20] Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia to the United States, Saudi Arabia ratifies the Arab Charter on Human Rights, http://www.saudiembassy.net/latest_news/news04150902.aspx, Apr. 15, 2009.
[21] Revised Arab Charter on Human Rights, arts. 4(2), 5, 8(1), 2004, translated by: Dr. Mohammed Amin Al-Midani and MathildeCabanettes, revised by Professor Susan M. Akram, Boston University International Law Journal Vol. 24, pp. 147-164, 2006.
[22] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia, para. 87(23), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23, Mar. 4, 2009; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia—Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Submitted by the State Party Under Review, para. 38, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23/Add.1, Jun. 9, 2009.
[23] Amnesty Intl. USA., Two Juvenile Executions are “Deplorable Additions to Grim Tally” in Saudi Arabia, says Amnesty International, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090511001, May 11, 2009.
[24] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010.
[25] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 10, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[26] Richard Clark, Executions Worldwide, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/world.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010. See this page and the links to month-by-month tabulation to confirm that reports of executions have been of beheadings except in one case in 2009.
[27] Richard Clark, Executions Worldwide, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/world.html, accessed Aug. 19, 2010. See this page and the links to month-by-month tabulation to confirm that reports of executions have generally been for crimes involving serious violence; Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 12, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[28] Carlyle Murphy, Saudi to codify Sharia “for clarity,” The National, http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100721/FOREIGN/707209830/1041/rss, Jul. 21, 2010.
[29] Death Penalty News, Saudi Arabia: 6th Execution in 2010, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2010/02/saudi-arabia-6th-execution-in-2010.html, Feb. 21, 2010.
[30] Dr. Abdur-Rahmaanibn 'AaydAal-'Aayd, Rights of Individuals Regarding Crimes that Require HudoodPunishments, pp. 84-85, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 40; Dr. 'Ali ibnRaashid ad-Dubayyaan, Alcoholic Beverages: Legal Punishment and Detrimental Effects, pp. 202-205, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37; Ibraheem bin Saalih Al-Zughaibee, Degrees of Conviction in Cases of Narcotics and Other Cases Related to Textual and Discretionary Punishments, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 38; See, by analogy, Dr. Hamad bin Ibraheem bin Abdul Azeez Ash-Shitwee, Punishment of Committing Theft for the Fifth Time: An Objective Study, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 37.
[31] Ibraheem bin Saalih Al-Zughaibee, Degrees of Conviction in Cases of Narcotics and Other Cases Related to Textual and Discretionary Punishments, generally, Al-Adl Journal Vol. 38.
[32] Dr. Haanee bin Abdullah Muhammad Al-Jubair, Cases and Judgments: Applying the Sentence of Qisaasagainst a Person with a Psychiatric Disorder, generally, pp. 257-258, Al-Adl Vol. 40.
[33] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 1, American Trust Publications, 1982; Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 37, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.
[34] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 196, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982 (giving the traditional example that the punishment for theft may be inappropriate if the Islamic social security system has not been provided); Erik C. Owens, et. al., eds., Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning, p. 73-105, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004 (chapter written by Khaled Abou El Fadl).
[35] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 69-85, 89, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[36] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 96-97, 108-119, American Trust Publications, 1982; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 211-213, 223-224, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 44-45, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 87-88, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[37] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 220, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[38] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art.22, 23, Decree No.M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[39] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 129, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[40] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 129, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[41] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, arts. 10, 194-195, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[42] Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: Criminal Justice Strengthened—Shura Council Approves Legal Aid Program, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/14/saudi-arabia-criminal-justice-strengthened, Jan. 14, 2010.
[43] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, arts. 11-12, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001. The law refers to a Supreme Judicial Council, but this is now the Supreme Court—following a case through the appellate process will demonstrate that, although we do not have the amending law. Amnesty Intl., Saudi Arabia “Sorcery” Death Sentence Upheld, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/saudi-arabia-sorcery-death-sentence-upheld-2010-03-18, Mar. 18, 2010 (appeals court decision); Amnesty Intl., Saudi Arabian Court Rejects “Sorcery” Death Sentence, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/saudi-arabian-court-rejects-sorcery-death-sentence-2010-11-12, Nov. 12, 2010 (Supreme Court decision overturning the death sentence in this case).
[44] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, arts. 9, 193, Decree No.M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[45] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, arts. 198-202, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[46] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 203, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

We did not find information on where prisoners are held under sentence of death in Saudi Arabia. For instance, one female domestic worker under sentence of death has been held in a converted private home. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

The U.S. Department of State reports that in general, prison conditions in Saudi Arabia are below international standards, with particularly poor conditions prevalent in women’s prisons. Overcrowding is a problem, with domestic human rights organizations reporting overcrowding so severe as to require prisoners to sleep in shifts. Inmates have died of tuberculosis and suffered from preventable infectious diseases. Some educational and vocational training is provided, although we do not know whether it is provided to those sentenced to death. Terror convicts are held separately from all other convicts to prevent the spread of extremist ideology. Women, men and juveniles are held separately. [2] The conditions for women or foreigners under sentence of death may be significantly better—for instance, one female domestic worker under sentence of death has been held in a converted private home, where she has reportedly been well-treated. [3]

Other individuals held in Saudi prisons may either be tortured or exposed to an environment in which torture is common. [4]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Foreign nationals are held under sentence of death and are, in fact, among those most likely to be held under sentence of death. [5] One-hundred four of the approximately one-hundred forty individuals on death row as of January 25, 2010 were foreign nationals. [6]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Some resources simply note that “many nationalities” are represented on death row in Saudi Arabia; [7] that is probably the most effective way of expressing the situation. Amnesty International has observed that North Americans and Europeans are among those foreigners least likely to be executed in Saudi Arabia, with Yemeni, Pakistani, Sudanese, Ethiopian, and others from nations that do not put forth as much consular effort to protect their citizens from execution being among those predominantly held under sentence of death and executed. [8] In 2008, FIDH issued a press release stating that hundreds of Syrians were on death row in Saudi Arabia; [9] we do not know whether these individuals are still on death row.

Anyone interested in this topic should research how the death penalty is applied to foreign domestic workers. [10]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

In 2008, Amnesty International reported that women are subjected to unfair proceedings from which they may be excluded and, if they are not, at which their testimony is not valued. This has a particularly harsh impact on female foreign nationals, who are held under sentence of death and executed at extremely high rates. The Amnesty report catalogues a number of individual cases. [11] We have no reason to suspect the situation is different today—for instance, by February 22, 2011, a Sri Lankan maid was still reported to be held under sentence of death. [12]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

For the most part, we have not found reports of any individuals currently held under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18, although immediately prior to Saudi Arabia’s apparent acceptance in 2009 of the Human Rights Council recommendation that it commute the sentences of any such individuals, [13] there were certainly individuals on death row for crimes committed while under the age of 18, some of whom were executed in 2009. [14]

However, the well-publicized case of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan maid still reported to be held under sentence of death for an allegedly accidental killing committed at age 17, suggests that the Saudi respect for the prohibition against this practice may not be complete. It should be noted that Rizana had falsified her passport to obtain employment in the Kingdom, but her age at the time of her offense has now been established, and she has yet to be re-sentenced. [15]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

Foreign nationals are at particular risk of execution for capital crimes. The first factor driving the situation is that foreign nationals are not familiar with Saudi judicial processes, and the government may make little or no effort to inform them or provide them with interpreters when necessary so that they can understand proceedings and the charges against them. This dynamic is exacerbated in cases involving a private criminal action for diyat (blood money) or qisas (the religiously stipulated retributive death penalty) against an individual who has caused the death of kin. Foreign workers are likely to be poor and thus face qisas (unless their governments or some organization can fund a pardon, or the family grants a free pardon); additionally, Arab groups that intercede for offenders by bringing influential personages to bear on issues may be less likely to intercede for non-Saudis. Foreign workers are more than 7 times as likely to be executed as Saudis are. Individuals from Europe and North America are very unlikely to be executed compared to individuals from other areas of the world. [16] It is possible that, to some extent, domestic workers are not fully aware of the proper approach to the sulah process (substitution of diya for qisas).

Human Rights Watch has published a report on the Ismailis in southern Saudi Arabia, reporting on one incident in which a number of Ismailis were sentenced to death and a practice of religious discrimination against Ismailis that can result in application of the death penalty. While the King has generally been fairly involved in pardoning Ismailis sentenced to death, on occasion he seems unable to because the sentence of death has been pronounced as hadd. [17]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

According to the Law on Criminal Procedure, defendants have a right to an attorney “or representative” during investigation and the trial stage. [18] The governmental Human Rights Commission states that attorneys are provided at the public expense. [19] In 2008, Amnesty International observed that trials are secretive and generally carried out without lawyers. [20]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

According to the Law on Criminal Procedure, defendants have a right to an attorney during the “trial stages,” [21] it is unclear whether this is interpreted to limit the government’s practice of providing attorneys at public expense [22] at the various stages of appeal. In 2008, Amnesty International observed that the appeals process is generally carried out with little input from the defendant’s perspective. [23]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In 2010, the Human Rights Council noted several cases in which the Saudi government incarcerated human rights defenders for their activities. [24] In one case, the courts sanctioned an attorney and punished his client because the court disapproved of publicity surrounding the defendant’s appeal. [25] In 2008, Amnesty International observed that trials are secretive and generally carried out without lawyers. [26] Access to a lawyer may also be undermined by the government’s failure to provide adequate interpretation services for foreign defendants. [27]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

It should be noted that the approach to sentencing for tazir crimes is fundamentally unfair to the defendant. If a defendant stands trial and successfully convinces one of three judges that he should not be executed for a tazir offense, Saudi law requires that two additional judges be appointed to consider the matter along with the original 3-judge panel. A simple majority of the new panel of five judges may sentence the defendant to death. [28] This is somewhat ameliorated by the requirement of unanimity on appeal. [29]

Individuals who appeal their sentences may be submitted to harsher sentences since judges on appeal have extensive discretion to modify the sentence imposed. Amnesty International reports that trial procedures are secretive and that opportunity to guarantee a fair trial by engaging in appellate review is extremely limited. [30] Human Rights Watch reports extensive abuse of pre-trial detainees and judicial participation in forcing illegitimate confessions in some capital cases; [31] communications of the Human Rights Council support such contentions [32] and a number of human rights organizations not controlled by the Saudi government report systematic abuse by authorities, including torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or simply for punishment. [33] Human Rights Watch reports some positive rulings (in 2009) regarding protecting the defendant’s right to representation, [34] which could help reduce the state’s ability to deny defendants’ other rights with impunity—although courts may sanction zealous advocates. [35]

Finally, women have been severely penalized when they are victimized by men—sometimes on the grounds that the woman has stepped out of the limits of the severely restrictive guardianship system, and sometimes because judges simply do not apply Shari’a rules protecting a woman who alleges she has been raped. Women who are raped can—if they make the state authority aware by complaining, or if they become pregnant—be prosecuted for the capital offense of zina, and courts have not complied with principles that would prevent the application of the hadd in cases where rape is alleged. [36]

References

[1] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136079.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[3] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010.
[4] Human Rights Watch, The Ismailis of the Najran: Second-class Saudi Citizens, pp. 29 and following, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/saudiarabia0908/, Sep. 22, 2008. U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, paras. 948-978, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010. U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136079.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 30-36, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008. For additional support, see U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, paras. 964-968, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[6] Death Penalty News, Saudi Arabia and its death sentences, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2010/01/saudi-arabia-and-its-death-sentences.html, Jan. 25, 2010.
[7] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 3, 30-36, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008. For additional support, see U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, paras. 965-968, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[9] FIDH, Four Syrians Beheaded, Hundreds Still Under the Threat of Execution in Saudi Arabia, http://www.fidh.org/Four-Syrian-beheaded-hundreds-still-under-the, May 2, 2008.
[10] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 36-40, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[12] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010; Asian Human Rights Commission, Saudi Arabia/Sri Lanka: Rizana Nafeek’s Life is Still in Great Danger, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-033-2011, Feb. 22, 2011.
[13] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia, para. 87(23), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23, Mar. 4, 2009; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia—Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Submitted by the State Party Under Review, para. 38, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23/Add.1, Jun. 9, 2009.
[14] Amnesty Intl. USA., Two Juvenile Executions are “Deplorable Additions to Grim Tally” in Saudi Arabia, says Amnesty International, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090511001, May 11, 2009.
[15] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010; Asian Human Rights Commission, Saudi Arabia/Sri Lanka: Rizana Nafeek’s Life is Still in Great Danger, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-033-2011, Feb. 22, 2011.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, pp. 30-36, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008. For additional support, see U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, paras. 964-968, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[17] Human Rights Watch, The Ismailis of the Najran: Second-Class Saudi Citizens, pp. 3-4, 36-40, 50-52, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/saudiarabia0908/, Sep. 2008.
[18] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 4, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[19] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136079.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 24, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[21] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 4, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[22] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136079.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[23] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 25, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[24] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, para. 954, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[25] RasheedAbou-Alsamh, Saudi Rape Case Spurs Calls for Reform, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/01/world/01saudi.html, Dec. 1, 2007; Laura Setrakian, Exclusive: Saudi Rape Victim Tells Her Story, ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=3899920&page=1, Nov. 21, 2007.
[26] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 24, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[27] For instance, review Rizana’s case. AsiaTribune.com, Father and Mother—Both Should Forgive Sri Lanka Maid Rizana Nafeek—Ambassador Mohammed Marleen, http://www.asiantribune.com/node/13687, Oct. 13, 2010; Carlyle Murphy, Sri Lankan Death Row Maid in a Fight For Her Life, http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/middle-east/saudi-arabia-death-row-maid-in-a-fight-for-her-life, The National, Mar. 16, 2010; Asian Human Rights Commission, Saudi Arabia/Sri Lanka: Rizana Nafeek’s Life is Still in Great Danger, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-033-2011, Feb. 22, 2011.
[28] Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, art. 129, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001.
[29] Saudi law and court rulings require extensive review of capital convictions and, in some cases, unanimous sentencing decisions by courts, diminishing the chances that heterodox positions will influence the outcome of a capital case. Saudi Arabia Law of Criminal Procedure, arts. 10-12, 129, 194-195, Decree No. M/39, Oct. 16, 2001; Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: Criminal Justice Strengthened—Shura Council Approves Legal Aid Program, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/14/saudi-arabia-criminal-justice-strengthened, Jan. 14, 2010.
[30] Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, p. 24, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.
[31] Human Rights Watch, The Ismailis of the Najran: Second-Class Saudi Citizens, pp. 3-4, 36-40, 50-52, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/saudiarabia0908/, Sep. 2008.
[32] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque de Silva, Addendum: Communications to and from Governments, paras. 948-978, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[33] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136079.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[34] Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia: Criminal Justice Strengthened—Shura Council Approves Legal Aid Program, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/14/saudi-arabia-criminal-justice-strengthened, Jan. 14, 2010.
[35] RasheedAbou-Alsamh, Saudi Rape Case Spurs Calls for Reform, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/01/world/01saudi.html, Dec. 1, 2007.
[36] RasheedAbou-Alsamh, Saudi Rape Case Spurs Calls for Reform, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/01/world/01saudi.html, Dec. 1, 2007; Laura Setrakian, Exclusive: Saudi Rape Victim Tells Her Story, ABC News, http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=3899920&page=1, Nov. 21, 2007; Liz Hazelton, Saudi Judge Sentences Pregnant Gang Rape Victim to 100 Lashes for Committing Adultery, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1141267/Saudi-judge-sentences-pregnant-gang-rape-victim-100-lashes-committing-adultery.html, Feb. 11, 2009.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Because Saudi Arabia is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee does not issue decisions on petitions by individuals or Concluding Observations pursuant to periodic review of human rights.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

The Members of the Human Rights Council recommended that Saudi Arabia eliminate the juvenile death penalty, commute the death sentences of those convicted for offenses committed while under the age of 18, restrict the application of the death penalty to the most serious offenses, and institute protections to safeguard the rights of defendants, including safeguards available at international law. The Saudi government accepted the Members’ recommendations that it address these concerns. [1]

References

[1] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia, paras. 27, 29, 44, 45, 46, 74, 79, 80, 82, 87, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23, Mar. 4, 2009; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saudi Arabia—Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Submitted by the State Party Under Review, paras. 37, 38, 70, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/23/Add.1, Jun. 9, 2009.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

Al-Adl Journal online (multiple articles published by the Ministry of Justice, website is variable—use Google search).

Ali Akram Khan Sherwani, Impact of Islamic Penal Laws on the Traditional Arab Society, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1993.

Amnesty Intl., Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, MDE 23/027/2008, Oct. 14, 2008.

Amnesty Intl., Defying World Trends—Saudi Arabia’s Extensive Use of Capital Punishment, MDE 23/015/2001, Nov. 1, 2001.

Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, The Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.

Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, International Law Institute, 1997.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Culture of Ugliness in Modern Islam and Reengaging Morality, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 2 p. 33, 2002-2003.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Death Penalty, Mercy and Islam: A Call for Retrospection, p. 73-105 in Erik C. Owens, et. al., eds., Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2004.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12 No. 3, p. 269, 1997.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.

Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, American Trust Publications, 1982.

Muhammad Abdel Haleem et. al, Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.

Robert Postawko, Towards an Islamic Critique of Capital Punishment, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 1 p. 269, 2002.

Rodolphe J.A. De Seife, The Shari’a: An Introduction to the Law of Islam, Austin & Winfield, 1994.

S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al Islam, Translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961.

Tahir Mahmood et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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