THE recent beheadings in Saudi Arabia of a young Sri Lankan Muslim woman and a Pakistani on various charges has drawn criticism of human rights organisations around the world which deem such punishment as mediaeval and barbaric.

Indeed such actions bring to mind the mediaeval English history made famous by the slaying of two of King Henry VIII’s six wives.

Although it is the Saudi practice to award such punishments to those violating the laws of the land, in the 21st century these acts are looked upon with a degree of contempt at a time when vast majority of the countries have banished capital punishment. Last year as many as 69 people were beheaded in the Kingdom according to the US - based Human Rights Watch and no detailed information is available on the legal aid or help provided to the victims, barring the case of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek who was put down in her 20s and that too when Colombo appealed to Riyadh for mercy.

Of the many Pakistanis who have been meted out such judicial verdicts over the years mainly on charges of drug trafficking, one has not heard of any family members coming forward for mercy plea nor has the government shown any inclination to take up their cases on humanitarian grounds.

Rather than putting them to sword, ideally, it would be much better if the Saudi  government deports such convicted persons to their respective countries and enable them to serve their sentences in their own homeland under official agreement. In this way, human rights organisations will feel satisfied and have no valid reason to criticise the oil-rich Kingdom.

FAWAD HASHMEY Lahore

Opinion

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