Executions in Saudi Arabia have almost doubled under Mohammed bin Salman’s regime, despite the Crown Prince’s ‘reformist’ programme.
Capital punishment has soared in the past seven years in the country, with an average of 129.5 executions per year since Prince Mohammed came to power in 2015.
This marks an 82 per cent rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia compared to the period between 2010 and 2014 when there were 70.8 executions per year, according to a report by activist groups Reprieve and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights
More than 1,000 death sentences, most of which involve beheading, have been carried out under the current leadership, the NGOs said, after verifying official announcements with investigations and interviews with lawyers, family members and activists.
Saudi Arabia executed 147 people last year, while scores have endured torture and other human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia, which is one of the world’s leading executioners, announced 81 executions in a single day last March it said were for terrorism-related offences.
The country has undergone rapid social reforms in recent years but activists accuse Crown Prince Mohammed of also overseeing a harsh crackdown on critics.
‘Every data point in this report is a human life taken,’ said Reprieve director Maya Foa.
‘The Saudi death penalty machine chews up children, protesters, vulnerable women in domestic service, unwitting drug mules and people whose only ‘crime’ was owning banned books or speaking to foreign journalists.’
Crown Prince Mohammed said in an interview with The Atlantic magazine that the kingdom had ‘got rid of’ the death penalty except for cases of murder or when someone ‘threatens the lives of many people’, according to a transcript published by state media last March.
But the six bloodiest years for executions in Saudi’s recent history have all occurred under the current leadership.