Last Friday, Saudi Arabia executed eight Bangladeshi nationals for the alleged murder of an Egyptian man. The nationals were migrant workers who traveled to Saudi Arabia in search of jobs and a better life; so was the Egyptian man who was murdered.
Executions in Saudi Arabia usually happen in public. Offenders who are sentenced to death, like the Bangladeshi men, are beheaded in front of people so that everyone is aware of what happens to those who break the law. According to the Amnesty International article, court proceedings in Saudi Arabia “fall short of international standards for fair trial and news of these recent multiple executions is deeply disturbing.” The article states that, offenders may be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress or deception. Also, foreign workers in Saudi Arabia often don’t understand the nuances of Saudi law, do not understand the Arabic language, and frequently fail to secure effective legal representation. This year, death penalties in Saudi Arabia have doubled, compared to last year, which is a little alarming as well.
The activist in the article also suggests that, “The government must establish an immediate moratorium on executions in the Kingdom and commute all death sentences, with a view to abolishing the death penalty completely.” Such a statement brings about questions that are hard to pose.
Saudi Arabia has a very low record of crimes committed and much of that statistic is attributed to their strict punishments for those who break the law. At what point can one infringe on the sovereignty of another state? What I mean by that is, their death penalty is in place according to the Sharia, the “Islamic law.” They have a religious and cultural mindset and act accordingly. Would asking them to ‘abolish the death penalty’ be an infringement of their cultural and religious values? Or would it be justified because we are inherently asking for protecting human rights?