From Reuters, in Toronto Star, April 3, 2013
DUBAI- Amnesty International has condemned a reported Saudi Arabian court ruling that a young man should be paralysed as punishment for a crime he committed 10 years ago which resulted in the victim being confined to a wheelchair.
The London-based human rights group said Ali al-Khawaher, 24, was reported to have spent 10 years in jail waiting to be paralysed surgically unless his family pays one million Saudi riyals ($270,000) to the victim.
The Saudi Gazette newspaper reported last week that Khawaher had stabbed a childhood friend in the spine during a dispute a decade ago, paralysing him from the waist down.
Saudi Arabia applies Islamic sharia law, which allows eye-for-an-eye punishment for crimes but allows victims to pardon convicts in exchange for so-called blood money.
“Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture,” Ann Harrison, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said in a statement late on Tuesday.
“That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offences, as happens in Saudi Arabia,” she added.
A government-approved Saudi human rights group did not respond to requests for comment.
From Reuters, in Toronto Star, March 4, 2013
RIYADH- Saudi Arabia is scheduled to execute seven men on Tuesday for crimes committed when they were juveniles aged under 18, the British-based rights group Amnesty International said.
The seven were sentenced to death in 2009 for an armed robbery in 2006, but Amnesty quoted the men as saying they were tortured into confessions. It said King Abdullah ratified their sentences in February.
“They have since said they were severely beaten, denied food and water, deprived of sleep, forced to remain standing for 24 hours and then forced to sign ‘confessions’,” said Amnesty.
A spokesman for the kingdom’s Interior Ministry was not immediately able to comment on the report, but has repeatedly said in the past that Saudi Arabia does not practise torture.
The kingdom, which follows a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law, has been criticized in the West for its high number of executions, inconsistencies in the application of the law, and its use of public beheading to carry out death sentences.
The last time the kingdom executed so many people at once was in October 2011, when eight Bangladeshi men were put to death for an armed robbery in which a guard was killed.
The seven are from the southern province of Asir, one of the least developed in the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter.
Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people so far this year, said Amnesty, compared to 82 in 2011 and a similar number last year.
From Toronto Star, January 13, 2013
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA—Saudi Arabia beheaded a young Sri Lankan housemaid on Wednesday after rejecting appeals by her home country against her death sentence for the killing of an infant left in her care in 2005, Saudi and Sri Lankan authorities said.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement run by the official SPA news agency that Rizana Nafeek was executed in the town of Dawadmy, near the capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said Nafeek was sentenced to death in 2007 after her Saudi employer accused her of killing his infant daughter while she was bottle-feeding.
The Saudi Interior Ministry statement said the infant was strangled after a dispute between the maid and the baby’s mother.
The Colombo government appealed against the death penalty but the Saudi Supreme Court upheld it in 2010.
“President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a personal appeal on two occasions immediately after the confirmation of the death sentence, and a few days ago to stop the execution and grant a pardon to Miss Rizana Nafeek,” the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent by email.
“President Rajapaksa and the government of Sri Lanka deplore the execution of Miss Rizana Nafeek despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally over the death sentence of a juvenile housemaid,” it said.
Amnesty International said the passport Nafeek used to enter Saudi Arabia in May 2005 stated she was born in February 1982, but her birth certificate states she was born six year later, which would have made her 17 at the time of the infant’s death.
Saudi households are highly dependent on housemaids from African and South Asian countries. There have been reported cases of domestic abuse in which families mistreat their maids, who have then attacked the children of their employers.
Human Rights Watch condemned the execution.