On April 8, 2020, Saudi Arabia carried out the 800th execution since 2015, in the reign of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. The rate of executions has doubled under his rule.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the Kingdom intends to “minimise” the number of executions. This latest grim milestone shows that the opposite is in fact the case.
From 2009-14, there were 423 executions in Saudi Arabia. Since King Salman took power on January 23, 2015, a little over five years ago, there have been almost twice as many.
Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 185 people, the most in a calendar year since Reprieve and ESOHR began tracking executions in the Kingdom. In one mass execution of 37 people, on April 23, 2019, six young men who were children at the time of their alleged offences were killed.
At least 13 other juvenile defendants remain on death row, including Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher, who are at imminent risk of execution.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “For all the rhetoric of reform and modernisation, Saudi Arabia is still a country where speaking out against the King can get you killed. In the run-up to the G20 summit in Riyadh in November, the Kingdom’s western partners must demand an end to the execution of children and political opponents, otherwise they risk tacitly endorsing these flagrant violations of international law.”
Ali al-Dubisi, Director of ESOHR, said: “The high implementation of death sentences, despite assurances from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, exposes the falsehood of these promises. The targeting of prisoners of conscience and children confirms the retaliatory and political use executions, and raises additional concerns for detained individuals still facing punishment.”