Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 14, 2010
Amnesty International Urges Saudi King to Halt Execution of Sudanese Man Sentenced for "Sorcery"
Convicted Man Accused of Producing "Spell" to Reconcile Divorced Couple
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]
(New York) -- Amnesty International today called on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to intervene to halt the possibly imminent execution of a Sudanese man who was given the death sentence for “sorcery."
Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki, who was sentenced to death by a Madina court on March 27, 2007, was accused of producing a spell that would lead to the reconciliation of his client’s divorced parents. The "spell" involved nine pieces of paper with codes written on them with saffron. Very little is known about his trial proceedings as they were held in secret. It is also not known if his execution has been scheduled, but it is considered likely to be imminent, given the time that has elapsed.
“Abdul Hamid al-Fakki appears to have been convicted solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion,” said Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.
“We are calling on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia not to let this or other executions go ahead.”
Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki was arrested on December 8, 2005 in the city of Madina by the Mutawa’een (religious police). He was accused of practicing sorcery after being entrapped by the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV).
It is not clear why the authorities targeted him. A man working for the CPVPV approached Abdul Hamid and asked him to produce a spell that would lead to the man’s father separating from his second wife and returning to his first wife, the man’s mother.
Abdul Hamid apparently accepted to do this in exchange for 6,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately US $1,600).
He delivered his work, consisting of nine pieces of paper with codes written on them with saffron, and was promptly arrested, questioned and beaten.
The crime of “sorcery” is not defined in Saudi Arabian law but has been used to punish people for the legitimate exercise of their human rights, including the rights to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and expression.
The Saudi Arabian authorities arrested scores of people for “sorcery” in 2009, and have arrested over 20 more this year. Often arrests are carried out by the Mutawa’een, which uses entrapment to secure charges not only of “sorcery” but also of other offenses such as khilwa (being in the company of members of the opposite sex who are not close relatives).
The last known execution for “sorcery” was that of Egyptian national Mustafa Ibrahim, on November 2, 2007. Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offenses, including some with no deadly consequences, such as sorcery. Court proceedings fall far short of international standards for fair trial. Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by a lawyer, and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them.
They may be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress or deception. Prisoners in Saudi Arabia may be put to death without a scheduled date for execution being made known to them or their families. Since the beginning of 2010, at least 11 people have been executed.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and woArks to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
Please visit www.amnestyusa.org for more information.