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KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA: Death toll reaches 100 as authorities carry out execution spree

9 Oct 2017
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Abolition of the Death Penalty

The Saudi Arabian authorities executed a man today, bringing the total number of people put to death so far in 2017 to 100, with 60 people executed in the past three months alone, said Amnesty International.

“If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”

Forty percent of the executions carried out so far this year were related to drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.

Unfair trials

Many people in Saudi Arabia sentenced to death and executed are charged guilty following seriously flawed court proceedings that routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. They are often convicted solely on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture and other ill-treatment, denied legal representation in secret trials.

For example, on 13 September Said al-Sai’ari was executed. He was found guilty of the murder of another Saudi Arabian man, by the same court that concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict him.

Death penalty as a tool

“The Saudi authorities have been using the death penalty as a tool to crush dissent and rein in minorities with callous disregard for human life. They should immediately quash these sentences and ensure that all trials meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty” said Lynn Maalouf.

At least 33 members of Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim community currently face the death penalty. All were accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. Some of the offences were committed when they were under 18. Some of the accused said that they were tortured to confess. And they are all at imminent risk of execution.

The families of the 14 Shi’a men accused of protest-related crimes and whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 24 July live in the fear of receiving at any time the horrific news of the execution of their relatives.

Saudi Arabia is one of the top executioners in the world, with more than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2016.

2 October 2017

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