Outcome: Jordanian man executed following unfair trial in Saudi Arabia

On March 12, Saudi Arabian authorities executed Hussein Abo al-Kheir. He was a Jordanian man and father of eight, who was sentenced to death in 2015 following a grossly unfair trial in which he was convicted of drug smuggling. During his pre-trial detention, Hussein Abo al-Kheir was subjected to an array of human rights violations, including incommunicado detention, lack of access to legal representation and torture to extract a “confession.”


Hussein Abo al-Kheir was arrested on May 18, 2014, by Saudi customs officials while crossing the Durra border from Jordan to Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling. Upon arrest, Abo al-Kheir was held in incommunicado detention at an unknown location for a period of 12 days. He was only allowed to contact his family two weeks after his arrest. Throughout his pre-trial detention, he said that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to extract a “confession”.

He retracted his confession before the Tabuk Criminal Court on December 15, 2014 and again on July 6, 2017, stipulating that the authorities had tortured him into signing the “confession” with his fingerprint because he was beaten to the point that he could not hold a pen. During his pre-trial detention and trial proceedings, he had no access to legal representation or consular assistance.

Hussein Abo al-Kheir’s execution contravenes an October 2022 decision by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found that he was being arbitrarily detained and called for his ‘immediate and unconditional release.’ Amnesty International had urged Saudi Arabia’s King Salman not to ratify the death sentence and to order the relevant judicial bodies to quash his conviction and re-try him in line with international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Hussein Abo al-Kheir is a victim of Saudi Arabia’s flawed justice system which regularly sees people sentenced to death following grossly unfair trials based on “confessions” extracted through torture.

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