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Saudi Arabia rejects UN report on death penalty

Saudi Arabia has rejected a report from the United Nations secretary-general urging countries to scrap the death penalty, stating that this was punishment approved under Islamic law to protect the rights of victims.
The UN report was issued recently at a Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Faisal Trad, Saudi ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said the Kingdom had every right to define its own laws.
“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, fully sovereign, and is proud that Islamic law is the basis of the country’s constitution. Islam ensures justice and protects the rights of all without discrimination, in addition to the right of life for all. The death penalty is a legal measure to protect the right to life and interests of the community,” he said.
He said articles five to 19 of the report supported the views of countries that had scrapped capital punishment. “The report, unfortunately, did not include any views from countries that believe this punishment is an integral part of measures to achieve justice and protect the rights of victims,” he said.
Trad said the Kingdom was committed to honoring Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to apply the penalty, including a commitment to ensure fair trials for all those accused of capital offenses.
He said the Kingdom’s courts only sentence people to death for offenses such as murder and drug trafficking.
The country’s judiciary is independent and protects the rights of all parties according to international law. In addition, lawyers are allowed to perform their duties without any interference, he said.