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'Five people put to death per week': Saudi Arabia carries out 100th execution this year Open in fullscreen

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'Five people put to death per week': Saudi Arabia carries out 100th execution this year

The kingdom is governed under a strict form of Islamic law [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 October, 2017

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Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest rates of execution, with suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking facing the death penalty.
A Saudi was executed in Riyadh on Monday bringing the number of people put to death in the kingdom so far this year to 100.

The man was sentenced to death for murdering another Saudi man and an appeals court upheld the ruling, the official SPA news agency reported, without elaborating.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned what it called Saudi Arabia's "execution spree".

“Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet," said Lynn Maalouf, director of research for Amnesty in the Middle East.

"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, Amnesty added. 

Death penalty as a tool

At least 33 members of Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslim community currently face the death penalty, the rights group reported. Among them are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, Dawood al-Marhoon who were arrested for alleged offences committed when they were under 18 and who said that they were tortured in order to make them “confess”. They were accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. 

On 11 July, Yusuf al-Mushaikhass, along with three other Shia men, were executed in the country’s eastern province of Qatif for terror-related offences in connection with their participation in anti-government protests between 2011 and 2012. Amnesty says Mushaikhass was convicted following a grossly unfair trial which hinged largely on a “confession” obtained through torture.

“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,” Maalouf added.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest rates of execution with more than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2016. Suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking face the death penalty.

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