Quick Facts – the death penalty in Saudi Arabia

Reprieve clients Abdullah al-Zaher, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Ali al-Nimr were sentenced to death for ‘crimes’ including attending illegal pro-democracy protests, “explaining how to give first aid to protestors” and using a Blackberry to invite others to join the protest. Other ‘crimes’ punishable by death include adultery and apostasy.

Execution methods

‘Crucifixion’ (beheading followed by public display of the body)

Executions in 2017

So far, at least 20 people have been executed (as of 3 March 2017)

Executions in 2016

154 executions were carried out in 2016

Notable executions

In January 2016, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people in just one day. Several juveniles were among the victims of this mass execution. At least one – Ali al Ribh – was convicted on charges relating to protests.

British involvement

Reprieve has raised concerns that UK funding and training for Saudi security bodies could be contributing to human rights abuses, including the death penalty. Reprieve has discovered that British police have trained their Saudi counterparts in investigation techniques that could lead to the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of protesters, and that these projects have been undertaken without proper safeguards.

Prisoners facing execution

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

2015_10_30_PUB Ali al-NimrOn 14 February 2012, at the age of 17, Ali was arrested for allegedly participating in anti-government protests in the eastern district of Qatif of Saudi Arabia. Two years later he was sentenced to death by beheading, 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.

Read more about Ali’s case here


Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon

2015_10_29_PUB Dawood al-MarhoonA second Saudi juvenile is facing imminent death by beheading for his alleged 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.

Read more about Dawoud


Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher

Abdullah was only 15 when he was arrested for allegedly participating in protests for democracy. He was shot at and injured by security forces, and tortured into signing a false ‘confession’. He is now awaiting execution in solitary confinement in a prison 1,000km away from his family home.

Read more about Abdullah