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Saudi Arabia executed 'record number' of people in 2019 despite reform drive: Amnesty

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia carried out its 800th execution in five years [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2020

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Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people last year, according to an Amnesty International report.
Saudi Arabia executed a record number of 184 people last year, Amnesty International reported on Tuesday, a rise from 149 people in 2018.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia carried out its 800th execution under King Salman bin Abdulaziz, nearly double the number of executions that took place in the five years prior to the monarch's ascension to the throne in 2015.

In April 2019, Saudi Arabia announced the mass execution of 37 citizens who had been convicted of "terrorism", with one of the bodies of the condemned crucified after death.

Reprieve, a UK organisation against capital punishment and the Berlin-based European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) said six of the 37 men killed were children at the time of their alleged offences.

The organisations' findings directly refute claims by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the throne, about his plans to reduce the number of executions in the kingdom, as part of his much-touted reforms.

"For all the rhetoric of reform and modernisation, Saudi Arabia is still a country where speaking out against the King can get you killed," said Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve in a statement.

Excluding China, the world's leading executioner, Amnesty found that 86 percent of all reported executions took place in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.

The Middle East and North Africa region has seen a 16 percent increase in the number of executions, from 501 in 2018 to 579 in 2019, owing the trend to a sharp increase in the use of the death penalty in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq accounted for 92 percent of the total number of recorded executions in the region.

Executions in Iran diminished slightly from at least 253 in 2018 to at least 251 in 2019, while executions in Iraq almost doubled from at least 53 in 2018 to at least 100 in 2019.

Amnesty found Egypt imposed the most confirmed death sentences in the region last year with at least 435 cases, though the number fell from 2018, which saw at least 717 people sentenced to death.

After a hiatus in 2018, Bahrain resumed executions last year, Amnesty said.



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