5 alarming facts about executions in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been one of the five top executing countries in the world for more than a decade. So far this year, the Saudi authorities have put more than 100 people to death. Last year they killed 154 people. The year before that, 157 people.

Here are 5 incredible facts about one of the world’s most prolific executors:

1. In 2015 Saudi Arabia advertised for 8 new executioners to cope with the rise in executions.

The advert specified no special qualifications and described the main role as “executing a judgment of death”. Performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences was also part of the role. That year, the authorities executed 157 people.

2. Saudi Arabia’s main method of execution is beheading with a sword.

Some reports suggest that executions can be carried out by ‘crucifixion’, which involves beheading and public display of the body on a cross.

3. In January 2016, the Saudi authorities carried out a mass execution.

The Saudi authorities killed 47 people in just one day. Among them were at least four juveniles, including Ali al-Ribh, who was arrested at his school, tortured into a false ‘confession’ to protest-related charges, and beheaded. His body was never returned to his family for burial.

Ali al-Nimr, just 17 when sentenced to death by beheading. He was accused of participation in an illegal demonstration and other offences such as “explaining how to give first aid to protesters”

4. Executions are either carried out in complete secrecy or in public.

One of the locations in Riyadh for executions is known locally as ‘Chop-Chop Square’.

5. The death penalty in Saudi Arabia is regularly imposed for offences including attendance at political protests.

The Kingdom retains the death penalty for non-lethal ‘crimes’ like adultery, drug offences and sorcery. In 2015, a Palestinian poet was sentenced to death for apostasy for publishing a book of poetry.


Saudi Arabia has sentenced fourteen peaceful protesters – including a young disabled man and two juveniles – to death.

Saudi Arabia claims to be modernising and reforming under its Vision 2030 programme. But any vision of the future, however grand, is fundamentally undermined by continuing to execute peaceful protesters and children. If Saudi Arabia is to have a bright future, these young men must be alive to see it.

Can you sign our petition and call on King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed to stop these executions?

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