UNITED NATIONS: As Saudi Arabia continues to execute/behead convicts as a form of punishment, two United Nations human rights experts have called on the Saudi government to impose a moratorium on death penalty.

“Beheading as a form of execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibited under international law under all circumstances,” said Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said on Tuesday.

“Despite several calls by human rights bodies, Saudi Arabia continues to execute individuals with appalling regularity and in flagrant disregard of international law standards,” said Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

According to the experts, so far in 2014 at least 45 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia. Between August 4 and 22, 22 people were executed, which represents an average of one execution per day. These included at least

eight people beheaded for non-violent crimes including drug-smuggling and sorcery. Other offences resulting in beheading have reportedly included adultery and apostasy.They called upon the Government of Saudi Arabia to stop all executions, and in particular to cease immediately the use of beheadings or other such forms of execution that shock the conscience of humanity.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2014