France's Hollande in Saudi calls for death penalty ban

AFP , Tuesday 5 May 2015

French President Francois Hollande called on Tuesday for abolition of the death penalty, speaking in Saudi Arabia which this year has seen a large rise in the number of executions.

The ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom has executed 78 locals and foreigners, compared with 87 during all of 2014, according to an AFP count.

Hollande, who attended the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh on Tuesday, said: "France is campaigning across the world to abolish the death penalty."

"The death penalty should be banned," he told reporters after meeting GCC leaders including Saudi King Salman.

He said Paris's position towards the death penalty is "not because one of our citizens could be a victim of an execution", referring to Frenchman Serge Atlaoui who is on death row in Indonesia.

Hollande said he would make the call to ban executions "everywhere, and regardless who is involved. And I do it here too" from Riyadh.

Just hours before Hollande's arrival on Monday in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom beheaded five foreigners for murder and robbery, adding to what Amnesty International has called a "macabre spike" in the number of executions in the country.

The five were two Yemenis, a Chadian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

London-based Amnesty ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's top three executioners of 2014.

Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the Gulf nation's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

The interior ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishment.

Short link: