The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Reprieve's press office: alice [DOT] gillham [AT] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140

Saudi Arabia Set to Behead Two Pakistanis for Drug Offences


Two Pakistani men are facing imminent beheading in Saudi Arabia after being forced by traffickers to bring drugs into the country.

Muhammad Irfan and Safeer Ahmad, from Pakistan, were taken to Saudi Arabia in 2010 and 2012 by men posing as 'employment agents', believing they would find work there. Instead both were forced into bringing drugs into the country, and were arrested by Saudi police on arrival. Both were sentenced to beheading, and it is understood that the sentences have now been upheld, and that they face imminent execution.

Irfan and Safeer have both been denied access to a lawyer throughout their imprisonment, and faced secretive trial proceedings that were conducted in Arabic - a language neither of them understands. Both men are believed to have told Saudi police that they had been trafficked - however, the courts disregarded the complaints, in violation of international and Saudi law.

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The plans come amid an outcry over the imminent beheading of two Saudi juveniles arrested at protests. Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud al-Marhoon were both 17 when they were tortured into 'confessions' that would be used to convict them in the country's secretive Specialized Criminal Court. Countries including France, Germany, the UK and the US, as well as the UN and the European Parliament, have raised serious concerns over the sentences.

The British government faced questions from MPs this week over its continued cooperation with the Saudi criminal justice system, following the cancellation of a controversial Ministry of Justice bid to provide services to the country's prisons.

Lawyers at international human rights organization Reprieve and Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) have urgently appealed to the UN Special Rapporteurs to intervene to stop the Pakistani men's executions from going ahead.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: "It is shocking that, amid an outcry over the planned executions of two juveniles, the Saudis are also preparing to behead two exploited drug mules - two men who travelled to Saudi Arabia in the belief that they would be better able to support their families back home. They have been denied justice at every turn, and now face imminent execution. The Pakistani government must urgently intervene with the Saudi authorities on behalf of Irfan and Safeer - while other countries must also step in and prevent this outrage from going ahead."

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantanamo Bay.