In the first half of the year, the Gulf country’s execution rate spiked – returning the amount of people put to the sword to pre-Covid levels.
Rights groups fear the rapid escalation of death penalties, which have reportedly been carried out by beheading in the past, could see the country break its grim record of 186 killlings throughout the whole of 2019.
The 120 people killed between January and June represents an 80 per cent increase when compared to all executions carried out during 2021, and more than during 2020 and 2021 combined.
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights has slammed the country’s justice system, claiming it has betrayed promises to reduce torture and killings in its penal system.
The ESOHR says the lack of transparency in the system meant that they only learned of the killings after they’d taken place.
In its report, the group drew attention to a mass beheading of 81 criminals on March 12 – when more than 70 per cent of the victims were killed for their involvement in non-fatal crimes.
Of the total number killed, 41 men – over 50 per cent – were slaughtered for taking part in pro-democracy demontrations.
To justify the killings, the Saudi leadership branded the men “terrorists” before putting them before their executioner.
The ESOHR reported that at least three of the men provided credible claims they had been tortured and their confessions forced.
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Out of 120 sent to die, 101 were Saudi nationals, with the other 19 comprising of nine Yemenis, three Egyptians, two Indonesians and a “citizen from each of Ethiopia, Myannmar, Jordan, Palestine and Syria.”
The vast majority of them were “tried and executed for punitive crimes” despite promises from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to cut down the severity of sentence for these charges.
Forty-one were killed for exercising “basic rights, including participation in demonstrations”, the report adds.
Another 37 convicts were put to the sword for “unknown” crimes, the report charges, claiming that this “reflects the lack of transparency in the Saudi justice system”.
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The report reads: “Saudi Arabia continues to systematically practice many human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and torture.
“Violations are accompanied by a disregard for obligations, as Saudi Arabia ignores a visit request submitted by the torture decision 16 years ago.”
At the moment, two Bahraini youths are at risk of imminent execution because they confessed after torture, the ESOHR said.
“The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights believes that the first half of 2022 confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty continues unabated, and considers that the numbers and the continued threat of minors confirm the false promises of reform,” the report concludes.