More than 100 executions have been carried out this year in Saudi Arabia at a pace that could see a record number of prisoners subjected to the death penalty in the kingdom, according to a new report.
During the first six months of 2022, the kingdom has delivered the death penalty to 120 prisoners — a higher rate than the 186 executions three years ago, a human rights group analysis shows.
A majority of the killings came in March, when Saudi Arabia killed 81 people accused of crimes — the largest mass execution recorded in the nation’s modern history. According to the group, by June, the Saudi government had killed more people in 2022 than during the previous two years combined.
“The mass execution exemplifies the opacity in Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system — 69 of the 81 men executed were unknown to human rights groups,” the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights said in the report, released July 29.
“As such, it is impossible to gauge the full extent to which international human rights law is complied with in the application of the death penalty.”
“If Saudi Arabia continues to execute people at the same pace during the second half of 2022,” the report warned, “they will reach an unprecedented number of executions, exceeding the record high of 186 executions in 2019.”
Roughly 100 of the people executed during the first half of 2022 were Saudi nationals, while 19 were citizens of other countries, according to the organization. Those included nine Yemenis, three Egyptians, two Indonesians, along with one Ethiopian, one Myanmarese, one Jordanian, one Palestinian and one Syrian, the report said.
Despite promises Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman made to put an end to the use of the death penalty for “discretionary” offenses, 72 people were tried and subsequently killed for alleged such infractions, according to the analysis.
Crown Prince Mohammed has eased some of Saudi Arabia’s policies, but also ordered the dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi and killed hundreds of Yemen civilians in air strikes.