Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry issued a statement on Thursday, 11 April, on the execution of two Pakistani nationals who were arrest for drug smuggling.
The statement confirmed that married couple, Muhammad Mustafa and Fatima Ijaz, were arrested for smuggling heroin – which, under Saudi’s Sharia law, is punishable by death.
The case was referred to the appellate court and the Supreme Court, and both courts ruled in favour of execution. The ministry added that they had a “royal order” to implement the killing.
"“The Ministry of the Interior hereby declares to confirm to the public the keenness of the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to fight against drugs of all kinds, as it causes serious harm to the individual and society and to impose the most severe penalties on the perpetrators.”" - The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior’s statement
The duo were beheaded in Jeddah on Thursday.
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Pakistan Condemns Execution
According to Pakistani media outlet Dawn, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) – a human rights organisation based in Lahore – harshly condemned the beheading.
JPP released a press statement to address the issue, adding that what was especially abhorrent was the "unprecedented execution of first Pakistani woman in five years."
What makes the development even more striking is that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are currently engaged in talks regarding the release of a prisoner.
"“These executions are particularly worrying in the face of the announcement by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in February this year to release 2,107 Pakistanis imprisoned in the Kingdom. The promise has yet to be fulfilled as only 250 Pakistani prisoners have returned so far.”" - JPP in a press relese
The release added, “Despite being a close regional ally, the Kingdom executes more Pakistanis than any other foreign nationality, with 20 executions in 2014, 22 in 2015, 7 in 2016, 17 in 2017, 30 in 2018 and 14 this year so far. More Pakistanis are imprisoned in Saudi Arabia than any other country in the world, with the total exceeding 3,300 Pakistanis.”
‘Gross Violation of Legal, Moral Protocols,’ Says Pak Human Rights Organisation
JPP raised important points about the people most likely to be embroiled in drug trafficking, saying, “destitute Pakistanis face the harshest punishments due to their lack of understanding of and assistance with the legal process, incapability to communicate directly with the court and inability to produce evidence from Pakistan in their defence.”
They added that such executions are a “gross violation of all legal and moral protocols, and Islamic injunctions,” as often, the family members are not informed and the bodies are not returned.