Capital Punishment for Drug Offenders in Saudi Arabia

Capital punishment is regulated by the international law. According to Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the penalty of death may only be applied to the ‘most serious crimes’. However it seems that there is a loophole in the application of capital punishment as some states have classified some crimes that should not punished by death as most serious crimes. Over the past twenty-five years UN human rights bodies have interpreted Article 6(2) in a manner that limits the number and type of offences for which execution is allowable under international human rights law. This is an attempt by the UN to reduce punishment by death. Capital punishment should be rarely used. However there are some countries that have classified drug offenses as ‘most serious crimes’ and this has created a hell on earth for drug addicts. The UN however does not support the view by retentionist governments that drug offenses are part of the ‘most serious crimes’. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, both of which have stated that drug offences do not constitute ‘most serious crimes’ and that executions for such offences are therefore in violation of international human rights law.

High commitment states

In recent years there has also been increasing support for the belief that capital punishment in any form violates the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as enshrined in numerous UN and regional human rights treaties. However some countries that are high commitment states have viewed this policy as a foreign construct and views capital punishment as both accepted cultural and religious norm.

Capital Punishment

The most notorious high commitment states include Saudi Arabia, China and Malaysia among others. In a 2007 report on a research done by International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) on the death penalty for drug offences, it is evident that, despite the global trend towards abolition of capital punishment, the number of states expanding their domestic death penalty legislation to include narcotics offences had actually increased over the past two decades.

China has been long known as a high commitment state but just like it Saudi Arabia has also been execute drug offenders in high numbers on a yearly basis. Saudi Arabia has since enforced a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught supplying or receiving drugs from abroad. Drug delinquents make up a substantial portion of those condemned to die and those who are actually executed. Rather than being an exceptional occurrence, executions for drug crimes seem a standardized part of the criminal justice process.

Dangerous spot for addicts

Capital punishment for drugs was first introduced in 1987 In Saudi Arabia and since then the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a dangerous spot for drug addicts. Unfortunately, the government does not publish its official clarification of sharia law or an informative text, therefore judicial discretion is substantially broad. The death sentence may be enforced for many different reasons such as  trafficking in drugs and narcotics, receiving drugs and narcotics from a trafficker, bringing in, growing or receiving drugs and narcotics in cases other than licensed under the law, being an accomplice in any of these acts and circulating drugs and narcotics for the second time by selling, transporting or distributing under the condition that an established previous ruling has been pronounced indicting him for circulation for the first time.

Despite the strict rules that govern the use of drugs in Saudi Arabia alcohol use in predominantly Muslim regions of the world has increased by 25 percent between 2005 and 2010. There are many psychosocial factors that lead to the problem of alcohol use and abuse in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However it is not easy to offer an exact estimate of the rate of alcohol use in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of the absence of consistent statistical reports.

Capital Punishment

The first execution for drugs in Saudi Arabia was recorded by Amnesty International on July 29th 1987 and the nine following executions before the end of 1987. Since then, Saudi Arabia has established into one of the world’s most hostile executors for drug crimes. It has been reported that about 60 percent of all prisoners in Saudi Arabia are there for drug use or drug trafficking. There are no bars or liquor stores in the entire country of Saudi Arabia. And this means that getting alcohol in Saudi Arabia is a problem. To anybody traveling to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia it is prohibited to carry alcohol or other narcotics with you. And anybody found in possession of any drug as you are getting into Saudi Arabia faces the full wrath of the law.

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Capital Punishment for Drug Offenders in Saudi Arabia