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SAUDI ARABIA: 'Sexual orientation' executions condemned

The three men - 'Ali bin Hittan bin Sa'id, Muhammad bin Suleyman bin Muhammad and Muhammad bin Khalil bin 'Abdullah, all Saudi Arabian nationals, were publicly beheaded in Abha, Asir province, on 1 January 2002.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior issued a statement announcing that the three were convicted of homosexual acts, adding vaguely-worded charges of 'luring Children's rights and harming others' without providing any further details. The trial proceedings - like most in Saudi Arabia - remain shrouded in secrecy.

Director of Amnesty International UK Kate Allen said:

'The execution of these three men is yet another gesture of defiance of international standards by the Saudi Arabian government.

Widespread revulsion at these killings has led Amnesty International members to urgently contact the Saudi authorities expressing concern that these men may have been executed primarily because of their sexual orientation and seeking clarification of the exact charges and evidence brought against them.'

No detailed information regarding the trial proceedings for these individuals is yet known. Amnesty International is now also seeking urgent clarification of the names of any further prisoners under sentence of death due to their sexual orientation and calling for the commutation of their sentences.

This case is not an isolated case of people in Saudi Arabia being punished for alleged same-sex sexual relations. In April 2000 it was reported that a Saudi court had sentenced nine young men to prison sentences and up to 2,600 lashes each for 'deviant sexual behaviour'. Six men were executed in July 2000 on charges partly relating to their sexual orientation and Amnesty International feared that these six may in fact have been among the nine men sentenced to the flogging and prison sentences. Like the recent executions, these six death penalties were carried out in Abha, Asir province.

This latest action by Amnesty International follows the publication last year of a report - Crimes of hate, conspiracy of silence – revealing that over 70 countries continue to criminalise same-sex relations, with some such 'offences' incurring the death penalty.

See: for more information on the present action, recent work on Egypt and on Amnesty International UK's LGBTI network's wider activities.

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