Responding to the news that Saudi Arabia has already executed 100 people this year, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:
“In clear contrast to Saudi Arabia’s repeated promises to limit its use of the death penalty, the Saudi authorities have already executed 100 people this year, revealing their chilling disregard for the right to life. The authorities’ relentless killing spree raises serious fears for the lives of young men on death row who were under 18 at the time of the crimes.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top executioners. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases in which the authorities have sentenced people to death for anything from a few tweets to drug-related offences following grossly unfair trials that fell far short of international human rights standards.
“In August alone, Saudi Arabia executed an average of 4 people per week, including one Pakistani man who was executed for drug smuggling. The death penalty is prohibited under international law for drug-related offences, which do not fall under the category of ‘most serious crimes’.”Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) regularly reports on executions and this morning confirmed the 100th execution carried out this year. The real number of executions may be higher in light of SPA’s under-reporting on the actual number of executions in 2022.
In 2022, Saudi Arabia executed 196 people – the highest annual number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in the country in the last 30 years. The number of executions in 2022 is three times higher than the number of executions carried out in 2021, and at least seven times higher than the figure for 2020.
In November 2022, Saudi authorities resumed executions for drug-related offences, ending a moratorium on such executions which the Saudi Human Rights Commission said had been in place since January 2020.
In addition, Saudi authorities continued to execute individuals for a wide range of crimes despite the authorities repeated promises to limit executions in cases where the death penalty is not mandated under Sharia (Islamic Law).
Courts continue to regularly sentence people to death. In July 2023, Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court sentenced Mohammad al-Ghamdi to death solely for tweets in which he criticized the Saudi authorities. His brother, Nasser, told Amnesty International that the death sentence was an act of reprisal against his own political views
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. As of today, 112 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and more than two-thirds in total are abolitionist in law or practice.