Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of prisoners they have killed in the last year – 151 in total. The Saudi authorities are currently executing at least one prisoner every two days.
Not only are we seeing an escalation in the number of prisoners executed in Saudi Arabia, the large majority of them are being sentenced to death for non-violent offences and the ‘crime’ of attending protests. Some, like Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud al-Marhoon, were just children when they were arrested and sentenced to death.
“This dramatic spike in executions should be cause for strong condemnation from the Saudis’ closest allies, like the UK and the US. The international community and Saudi Arabia’s closest allies must call for an end to the tide of senseless killing.”
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team
Ali and Dawoud were both convicted on the basis of ‘confessions’ they signed after being tortured, at secretive trials in which their lawyers were largely blocked from representing them. Reprieve’s research has found that the use of torture to extract ‘confessions’ is widespread in Saudi. Some prisoners on death row had been beaten so badly they had broken bones and teeth.
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Separate studies by the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) and Amnesty International have found that 2015 saw the Saudi authorities carry out at least 151 executions. Of those, the majority appear to have been convicted for non-violent crimes, including drug offences. The surge indicates that the country is executing at least one prisoner every two days.
Last month, Reprieve research found that, of those identified as awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia, some 72% were convicted for non-violent offences – including attendance at political protests – including juveniles, Ali and Dawoud.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
On 14 February 2012, at the age of 17, Ali was arrested for participating in an anti-governmental protest in the eastern district of Qatif of Saudi Arabia. Two years later he was sentenced to death by ’crucifixion’, based solely on a fabricated statement he was tortured into signing and that was used as an alleged confession. Ali is now facing imminent execution.
Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon
A second Saudi juvenile is facing imminent death by beheading for his role in pro-democracy protests. Dawoud al-Marhoon was 17 when he was arrested without a warrant by Saudi security forces in May 2012. He was tortured and made to sign a ‘confession’ that was later relied on to convict him.