Death Penalty

Is Saudi Arabia really reforming?

By March 7, 2018 No Comments

New analysis by Reprieve shows that since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed in June 2017 there has been a significant increase in the use of the death penalty, in marked contrast to the headline-grabbing “reforms” that have been introduced in the Kingdom.

Here are 5 things our analysis shows:


1. Executions have doubled


Executions in Saudi Arabia have doubled under Mohammed bin Salman. In the Eight months after he was appointed Crown Prince, 133 people were executed. This is compared with 67 executions in the eight months preceding


2. A record-breaking year


Mohammed bin Salman has overseen the execution of 16 people on average per month, every month, since his appointment. If this rate continues, 2018 could see 200 executions, the highest number of executions ever recorded in Saudi Arabia in one year.


3. Executing protesters


18 young men are currently facing imminent execution for protest-related offences under the wide-ranging “anti-terrorism” laws. Eight of those were just children at the time.

4. Saudi Arabia’s pro-democracy protest crackdown


One of the most concerning trends we’ve identified is the use of the death penalty to crack down on pro-democracy protests.

Many young people and children, have been arrested, tortured and sentenced to death based on forced ‘confessions’ and evidence gained from cyber-monitoring and surveillance.


5. Gross violations of international law


If carried out, these executions would constitute violations of international law and amount to arbitrary deprivations of the right to life.

Protest-related offences do not meet the internationally-accepted threshold for “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be handed down. In relying on statements extracted under torture to secure their convictions and death sentences, the Saudi courts have failed in their duty arising under the Convention Against Torture to exclude illegally obtained evidence.

Secrecy surrounding the date of execution, failure to notify the prisoner or their family of the date, and subsequently delaying access to the body for burial amount to a violation of the prohibition against torture. The UN has identified that the Saudi government’s current execution and notification practice is in violation of the prohibition against torture.


If you want to know more…

5 facts about Saudi executions

What happens to protesters in Saudi Arabia?

Is Saudi Arabia really reforming?

Reprieve US

Author Reprieve US

More posts by Reprieve US