The rate of executions in Saudi Arabia since King Salman and his son Mohammed bin Salman came to power in 2015 has almost doubled annually, according to a new report, highlighting flagrant human rights violations in the Arab country.
According to a new report by Reprieve and the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), published on Tuesday, at least 1,243 people were executed between 2010 and 2021, and the figure stood at 147 last year.
The report revealed that the six bloodiest years of executions in Saudi Arabia’s recent history (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022) have all occurred under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman as the country’s crown prince and de facto ruler and his father.
It highlighted that there was an average of 129.5 executions per year within the time span of 2015-2022, marking an increase of 82%.
Reprieve’s 2023 report, titled "Bloodshed and Lies: Mohammed bin Salman’s Kingdom of Executions," shows that between 2010 and 2021, those found guilty of murder, drugs trafficking, sexual offences, formation of or membership with an organized criminal group, abduction or false imprisonment accompanied by assault, burglary or robbery, sedition, treason and other state security offences as well as witchcraft and sorcery were sentenced to death penalty.
It further notes that 2022 was one of the bloodiest years on record in Saudi Arabia’s recent history as 81 people were put to death in one day on March 12.
The international rights groups emphasized that the actual number of people put on death row in the country is unknown because Saudi authorities do not provide any information about capital trials and keep them shrouded in secrecy.
Reprieve investigations have found that legal decisions, especially around the death penalty, are taken behind closed doors, court documents are forbidden from being published, charges are changed, and court sessions are indefinitely postponed
Investigations have also discovered that fair trial violations and torture are endemic in death penalty cases, including the cases of child defendants.
Moreover, at least 15 child defendants – those who committed ‘alleged’ crimes when they were minors – have been executed since 2013, despite Saudi Arabia announcing that they were getting rid of the death penalty for those who committed crimes when they were minors.
In 2021, Mustafa al-Darwish, who was on death row due to an alleged crime committed when he was just 17 years old, was executed.
The report also showed that Saudi Arabian officials executed 490 foreign nationals from 2010 to 2021, and the number makes up 39 percent of the total number of executions that took place in the kingdom between those years.
Saudi Arabia executed nearly three times more foreign nationals for drug offences than it did Saudi nationals.
Between 2010-2021, 31 women were also executed. Almost three-quarters of those killed were foreign nationals and of those foreign nationals, at least 56 percent were domestic workers.
The human rights organizations stated that bin Salman and his cabinet are trying to distract the world from his human rights abuses by means of sport-swashing, and are buying sports clubs like Newcastle United, and creating series and tournaments like the LIV Golf Tour for that purpose.
This is while they commit some of the worst human rights abuses in the world: handing out the death penalty and executing people in mass executions.
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