Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

20 September 2011

Saudi Arabia executes man convicted of "sorcery"

Saudi Arabia executes man convicted of "sorcery"

Saudi Arabia's government should establish an immediate moratorium on executions in the kingdom, Amnesty International said today after a Sudanese man convicted of "sorcery" was put to death.

Abdul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al-Fakki was beheaded in Madina on Monday. Saudi Arabia has now executed 44 people this year. Eleven were foreign nationals.

"Abdul Hamid's execution is appalling as is Saudi Arabia's continuing use of this most cruel and extreme penalty," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"That he should have been executed without having committed anything that would appear to constitute a crime is yet another deeply upsetting example of why the Saudi Arabian government should immediately cease executions and take steps to abolish the death penalty."

The crime of "sorcery" is not defined in Saudi Arabian law but it has been used to punish people for the legitimate exercise of their human rights, including their right to freedom of expression.

Abdul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al-Fakki was arrested in 2005 after he was entrapped by a man working for the Mutawa'een (religious police) who asked him to produce a spell that would lead to the man's father leaving his second wife.

It was alleged that Abdul Hamid said he would do this in exchange for 6,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately US$1,600).

Reportedly beaten after his arrest, Abdul Hamid is believed to have been coerced to confess to carrying out acts of sorcery.

He was sentenced to death by the General Court in Madina in March 2007. Few details are available about his trial but he is reported to have been tried behind closed doors and without legal representation.

Amnesty International campaigned on Abdul Hamid's behalf following his arrest and had urged Saudi Arabia's King 'Abdullah to prevent his execution.

Since the end of the holy month of Ramadan a few weeks ago, the Saudi Arabian authorities  have resumed executions at an alarming pace.

Seven people are known to have been put to death since executions resumed on 5 September, bringing the total executed so far this year to at least 44. In 2010 a total of 27 people were executed.

Two weeks ago Syrian national, Karim Ruslan Al-Ruslan was executed in the Jouf Region for smuggling drugs into the kingdom.

Around 140 prisoners are believed to be facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Last December, Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states that voted against a UN general assembly resolution calling for the worldwide moratorium on executions.

Read More

Saudi Arabian court rejects 'sorcery' death sentence (News, 12 November 2010)
Saudi Arabian King urged to commute “sorcery” death sentences (News, 30 September 2010)
Lebanese authorities urged to intervene to halt expected Saudi Arabia execution (Press release, 30 March 2010)
Saudi Arabia 'sorcery' death sentence upheld (News, 18 March 2010)
Death sentences over Saudi 'sorcery' claims (News, 10 December 2009)

Campaigns

Abolish the death penalty  

Issue

Death Penalty 

Country

Saudi Arabia 

Region

Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

19 December 2014

A flurry of activity by UN member states to sign and ratify the global Arms Trade Treaty before it enters into force next week is another clear sign of the overwhelming... Read more »

18 December 2014

The rights of migrants are being trampled across the globe as they face economic exploitation, discrimination and racism in a range of countries.

Read more »
22 December 2014

Pakistan's reported plans to execute 500 more people are “deeply disturbing” and would do nothing to protect civilians from the conflict with the Taliban.

Read more »
24 December 2014

Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to... Read more »

23 December 2014

Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the... Read more »