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Fears that six executed for sexual orientation

Three of the six men, executed in Abha, Asir Province on 11 July, were named as 'Attiya bin Obeid 'Attiya, Rajih bin Ibrahim 'Issa and Rajihi bin Hamad bin Ali, all Saudi nationals. The others, Yemeni nationals Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Abdullah Jabali, Yahya bin Ahmad Yabas Faraj and Faraj Ali al-Hajuri, were executed in Jizan Province on 14 July. All six were reportedly convicted on charges of sodomy, transvestism, homosexuality and raping young Children's rights, though judicial procedures are shrouded in secrecy in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International UK Saudi Arabia Country Co-ordinator Paul Dawson said:

'We are gravely concerned that men in Saudi Arabia may have been convicted and executed primarily because of their sexual orientation. Given the secrecy surrounding trials in Saudi Arabia our fear is that people are being executed in the Kingdom because of perceived ‘deviant behaviour''.

Amnesty International recognises the serious nature of the charge of rape and acknowledges the rights and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those guilty of recognisably criminal offences (though Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances). However, the organisation is concerned that these executions may represent swingeing measures to punish individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation.

These executions bring to 71 the number of people officially put to death in Saudi Arabia so far this year. The actual figure may be far higher.

Background Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences that, in addition to violent crimes, include some with no lethal consequences, such as sexual offences, apostasy, sorcery and drug-related offences.

Flogging is mandatory in Saudi Arabia for several offences, including sexual offences, and can be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or addition to other punishments. Sentences can range from dozens to thousands of lashes.

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