KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA: executes Indonesian woman with suspected mental illness

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20 Apr 2015
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty

Today’s execution of an Indonesian woman with a suspected mental illness is just the latest in the recent macabre spike in Saudi Arabia’s state-sponsored killings, Amnesty International said.

Saudi Arabian state media reported that Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa was executed this morning in Medina. She was sentenced to death in 1999 after she “confessed” in police custody to killing a woman who had allegedly mistreated her since hiring her as a domestic worker the year before.

The authorities waited for more than 15 years for the youngest of the victim’s children to reach adulthood to decide whether or not the family would want to pardon Siti Zainab or demand her execution under qisas (retribution).

“Imposing the death penalty and executing someone with a suspected mental illness smacks of a basic lack of humanity. This practice has been widely condemned on the world stage and Saudi Arabia should take this opportunity to reconsider its stance on the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

A UN resolution has called on states not to execute or impose the death penalty “on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder”.
According to sources in Indonesia, in November 1999 Siti Zainab admitted to stabbing her female employer 18 times, because of alleged “mistreatment”. Before her arrest, she had sent two letters in which she said that her employer and her employer’s son had been cruel to her.

Siti Zainab reportedly made this “confession” during police interrogation, and was subsequently sentenced to death.

She had no legal representation at any stage and did not have access to a consular representative during the police interrogation when she had made her “confession”. According to reports, the police suspected that she suffered from mental illness at the time of the interrogation.

The Indonesian government has issued a statement protesting against the Saudi Arabian authorities’ failure to notify them or Siti Zainab’s family before carrying out her execution.

In Amnesty International’s 2014 global report on the death penalty, released earlier this month, Saudi Arabia once again ranks among the top five executioners in the world. So far in 2015, Saudi Arabia has executed at least 60 people, most of them by beheading. This compares with 90 executions in all of 2014.

“Whatever the misguided purpose behind Saudi Arabia’s shocking spike in executions so far this year, it should draw international condemnation. The Kingdom’s authorities must halt this execution spree and establish an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” said Philip Luther.

14 April 2015

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