'Grim milestone': Saudi Arabia carries out 800th execution since 2015

'Grim milestone': Saudi Arabia carries out 800th execution since 2015
Saudi Arabia's marked its 800th execution under King Salman last week, nearly double the number carried out in the five years prior to the monarch taking to the throne.
2 min read
15 April, 2020
Executions in Saudi Arabia have increased markedly under King Salman's rule [Getty]
Saudi Arabia last week carried out its 800th execution under King Salman bin Abdulaziz, rights groups announced on Tuesday, nearly double the number of executions that took place in the five years prior to the monarch's ascension to the throne in 2015.

From 2009 to 2014, the five years preceding King Salman's rule, Saudi Arabia carried out a total of 423 executions, according to Reprieve, a UK organisation against capital punishment, and the Berlin-based European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR).

ESOHR told The New Arab that the 800th person to be executed since 2015 was Abd Al-Mohsen Al-Ghamidi on 8 April.

Al-Ghamidi was arrested in 2012 aged 12 on murder charges and was executed in Saudi Arabia's Al-Baha region.

ESOHR is tracking the cases of 52 individuals - including 13 children - who face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. Due to Riyadh's opaqueness about the practice, the organisation believes its data is incomplete.

"In reality, the number of persons facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia may be, and in fact likely is, significantly higher than the 52 we are currently tracking," James Suzano, Director of Legal Affairs at ESOHR, told The New Arab.

Although Saudi Arabia's primary focus has been containing the fatal Covid-19 outbreak, the kingdom's use of the death penalty - including defendents who were prosecuted as children - has shown no signs of abating.

Last month, Saudi authorities issued death sentences on five men for alleged crimes they committed as juveniles when police cracked down on protests in a Shia-majority province. The youngest of the group was nine-years-old at the time of his arrest.

Reprieve and ESOHR found that Saudi Arabia executed a record 185 people last year, the most in a calendar year since ESOHR began tracking the kingdom's executions in 2003.

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 and 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.

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