Saudi Arabia has executed 137 people this year – 11 in just the last two weeks. Our team has analysed the numbers and uncovered some worrying trends.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
1. This could be another record-breaking year for executions
At the current rate, Saudi Arabia is on course to exceed the record totals of the last two years, when 158 and then 154 people were executed. This means that Saudi Arabia is on track to execute 2030 people by the year 2030.
2. The new Crown Prince is no social reformer
Mohammed Bin Salman has been vocal about modernising Saudi Arabia but has instead overseen a dramatic increase in executions. He is the key architect behind the reforms of Vision 2030, but 96 executions have been carried out since he came to power just six months ago. His failure to address Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record and the imminent execution of 14 protesters has left questions about his commitment to real reform.
3. The Saudi authorities seem to have been emboldened after President Trump’s visit
Execution rates have increased dramatically since President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and failed to raise human rights concerns. Seemingly emboldened by Trump’s support, 73% of the year’s executions have take place since his visit.
4. Political protesters are being executed again
Those executed since Mohammed Bin Salman became Crown Prince include at least one political protester, who was executed in July. This marked the first protest-related execution since January 2016, when a mass execution provoked an international outcry. A return to protest-related executions has sparked fresh fears for the 14 young people on death row for ‘protest-related offences’.
5. Executions are becoming more coordinated
The Saudi authorities have carried out mass executions this year, with several executions happening regularly on the same day in different provinces on a regular basis. This is a new trend – and we think it suggests the execution system is becoming more sophisticated and coordinated under Mohammed Bin Salman.