UK condemns 'abhorrent' Saudi 'torture' of Jordanian inmate on death row

UK condemns 'abhorrent' Saudi 'torture' of Jordanian inmate on death row
UK Foreign Minister David Rutley has condemned the alleged torture of Jordanian death row inmate, Hussein Abo Al-Kheir, in a Saudi Arabian prison.
2 min read
29 November, 2022
Rutley told UK parliament that Britain has raised Abo Al-Kheir's case 'at the highest level' [Getty]

The UK has condemned the alleged torture of a Jordanian national on death row in Saudi Arabia, according to reports.

The British government said the alleged torture of 57-year-old Hussein Abo Al-Kheir was "abhorrent" and demanded an end to the rising number of executions in the kingdom, The Guardian reported.

Abo Al-Kheir, who has been on death row since 2015, was sentenced to death over drug offences, which he said he only confessed to under torture.  

Saudi Arabia announced a moratorium on the death penalty for drug-related crimes in January 2021.

"We have already expressed our concerns, particularly about Mr Al-Khair’s case, in which clearly torture was used," Foreign Minister David Rutley told parliament, according to the British daily. "We find that abhorrent."

Rutley added that the UK has raised the detainee's case "at the highest level" and that the impending execution "does not sit comfortably" with previous commitments made by the kingdom regarding the death penalty for drug-related offences.

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The home minister also highlighted that Saudi Arabia has executed around 150 people this year alone – 67 more people than last year.

Human rights groups say Hussein Abo al-Kheir's case highlights flaws in the Saudi justice system that make it imperative to end capital punishment entirely.

The Jordanian national was arrested in 2014 while crossing into Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a driver, according to his sister Zeinab Abo Al-Kheir. 

Zeinab and UK-based NGO Reprieve say Hussein endured 12 days of torture before he signed a document confessing to smuggling narcotics.

Riyadh has picked up the pace of executions in recent months. Twenty-four people have been executed since early October, 18 of whom were executed in November, based on state media reports.

They include 16 people convicted of drug-related offences, breaking the January 2021 commitment to end capital punishment for such crimes.