Foreigners facing capital punishment in Saudi Arabia are eight times more likely to be put to death than citizens of the Islamic kingdom, a report from Amnesty International has shown.
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 12:09AM BST 14 Oct 2008
The vast majority of foreigners charged with crimes meriting the death penalty are relatively impoverished menial labourers, predominantly from third world countries. Members of this group cannot afford the “diya” or blood money payments to a victim’s relative that can win clemency from the Shariah system of Islamic justice.
Although foreigners make up just one quarter of the oil rich state’s population, Amnesty reported they made up the majority of all those sent to death row. Its report revealed that at least 1,695 executions were carried out between 1985 and May 2008, with the number of non-nationals totalling 830, compared with 809 local citizens. It was impossible to ascertain the nationality of the remaining 56.
But it is in the number of reprieves that the greatest disparity lies. Amnesty claimed that a pardon is granted in one in every four capital cases involving a Saudi citizen but only one in 30 of each foreign case.