Saudi - Arabia

Saudi Arabia follows Shariah law, and it allows for the practice of the death penalty. The o­nly time a moratorium o­n executions is observed is during the holy month of Ramadan. The rate of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia ranks as o­ne of the highest in the world. In 2005, 2007, and 2008, Amnesty International reported that it ranked in the top five countries with the most confirmed executions. Over the past 28 years, the organization has recorded over 1,800 executions, but it suspects the actual numbers are far higher.

The death penalty is a form of punishment in Saudi Arabia for a wide range of offenses, including non-violent crimes. The death penalty has been ordered in cases of murder, blasphemy, apostasy, corruption, witchcraft, sorcery, sabotage, distribution of alcohol, consumption of alcohol, and sexual crimes. Juveniles, homosexuals, foreigners, and women accused of adultery have also been handed down the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

The preferred manner of execution is beheading the accused with a sword. Before being killed, the prisoner is usually administered some sort of tranquilizing drug before the execution commences. It is generally performed in a public square during Friday afternoon prayer when the accused is led by police to the center of the square and forced to kneel down and face Mecca. They are left barefoot and often dressed in a white robe.

The majority of Saudi Arabian executions take place in the three major cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dahran. The death penalty is often applied after highly secretive trials in which defendants are usually not permitted to have any legal assistance. The accused can be convicted strictly o­n the basis of a confession, but such confessions are often made after being exposed to extreme duress. The death penalty is also sometimes used unfairly against the poor who have no means of defense.