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2018 Death Penalty report: Saudi Arabia’s False Promise

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With crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at the helm, 2018 was a deeply violent and barbaric year for Saudi Arabia, under his de facto leadership.
PhotoDeera Square is a public space located in front of the Religious Police building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which public executions (usually by beheading) take place. It is sometimes known as Justice Square and colloquially called Chop Chop Square. After Friday prayers, police and other officials clear the area to make way for the execution to take place. After the beheading of the condemned, the head is stitched to the body which is wrapped up and taken away for the final rites.
This year execution rates of 149 executions, shows an increase from the previous year of three executions, indicating that death penalty trends are soaring and there is no reversal of this trend in sight.
The execution rates between 2015-2018 are amongst the highest recorded in the Kingdom since the 1990s and coincide with the ascension of king Salman to the t…

5 worrying things we’ve learned from new Saudi execution numbers

Public beheading in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia has executed 137 people this year – 11 in just the last two weeks. Our team has analysed the numbers and uncovered some worrying trends.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

1. This could be another record-breaking year for executions

At the current rate, Saudi Arabia is on course to exceed the record totals of the last two years, when 158 and then 154 people were executed. This means that Saudi Arabia is on track to execute 2030 people by the year 2030.


2. The new Crown Prince is no social reformer

Mohammed Bin Salman has been vocal about modernising Saudi Arabia but has instead overseen a dramatic increase in executions. He is the key architect behind the reforms of Vision 2030, but 96 executions have been carried out since he came to power just six months ago. His failure to address Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record and the imminent execution of 14 protesters has left questions about his commitment to real reform.

3. The Saudi authorities seem to have been emboldened after President Trump’s visit

Execution rates have increased dramatically since President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and failed to raise human rights concerns. Seemingly emboldened by Trump’s support, 73% of the year’s executions have take place since his visit.


4. Political protesters are being executed again

Those executed since Mohammed Bin Salman became Crown Prince include at least one political protester, who was executed in July. This marked the first protest-related execution since January 2016, when a mass execution provoked an international outcry. A return to protest-related executions has sparked fresh fears for the 14 young people on death row for ‘protest-related offences’.


5. Executions are becoming more coordinated

The Saudi authorities have carried out mass executions this year, with several executions happening regularly on the same day in different provinces on a regular basis. This is a new trend – and we think it suggests the execution system is becoming more sophisticated and coordinated under Mohammed Bin Salman.

Source: Reprieve, December 19, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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