UN human rights experts outraged at Saudi execution of seven men by firing squad

Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

13 March 2013 – Two independent United Nations human rights experts today voiced outrage at the execution by firing squad this morning of seven men in Saudi Arabia, despite repeated calls by the UN and civil society organizations not to carry out the death sentences.

“I deeply regret that Saudi Arabia executed seven individuals today despite my and other experts’ appeal not to do so,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns.

“I reiterate that any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a State’s international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution, and is unlawful.”

In an urgent joint appeal yesterday, Mr. Heyns and fellow UN experts called on Saudi authorities to halt the execution of the men, who were allegedly not given fair trials.

According to reports, the men were charged with organizing a criminal group, armed robbery and raiding and breaking into jewellery stores in 2005, and then sentenced to death in 2009.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, expressed deep concern over allegations that the seven individuals were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in detention, and were forced to sign confessions.

“This is not only in breach of Saudi Arabia’s international obligations under international law, which imposes an outright prohibition on torture, it is also in breach of the Government’s international obligation under the Convention against Torture that explicitly forbids the use of all forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or acquiring information,” he reiterated.


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UN experts urge Saudi Arabia to halt execution of seven men sentenced to death

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