Human Rights Watch Asks Saudi To Stay Executions



The New York-based rights group said in a statement sent  that the Saudi Arabian authorities had carried out the executions on Monday and subsequently ordered the bodies to be publicly displayed, flouting international law.


“The Saudi government should immediately halt all executions and retry those convicted in trials that do not meet minimum international standards of justice,” the group said.
The watchdog said it had spoken to one of the four Sri Lankans, Ranjith de Silva, on February 12 and at that time he was unaware of his imminent execution and was hopeful that he could still obtain clemency.
“The execution of these four migrants, who had been badly beaten and locked up for years without access to lawyers, is a travesty of justice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.
“International law only allows states to use the death penalty for the most serious crimes and in the most stringent of circumstances and neither condition was met in this case.”
According to de Silva, he and the other three men, Victor Corea, Sanath Pushpakumara, and Sharmila Sangeeth Kumara, had taken part in armed robberies in early 2004.
De Silva was arrested on March 11, 2004, five months after arriving in the kingdom, and pleaded that he was driven to crime out of financial desperation, HRW said.
The London-based Amnesty International has reported that Saudi Arabia has already executed 17 persons in 2007.
Executions are usually carried out in public in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty.
“Officials in the Saudi justice system failed to ensure that these four Sri Lankans had the basic safeguards required for anyone at risk of the death penalty,” the rights group charged.
The Sri Lankan government, meanwhile, said it made clemency appeals twice on behalf of the four men and was trying to arrange for the return of the bodies to their next of kin.

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