Saudi Arabia is planning to execute dozens of people in a single day, according to Amnesty International who warn that “it is clear that the Saudi Arabian authorities are using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores.” As The BBC reports, 55 people were awaiting execution for “terrorist crimes”, while a now-deleted report by al-Riyadh said 52 would die soon; which is on top of the “at least 151 people” who have been put to death since Saudi Arabia’s current King Salman rose to power after the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, dramatically higher than the total of 90 in 2014.
As Vice News reports Amnesty International criticized the wave of executions, calling it “a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities” use of the death penalty.
“The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree which has seen at least 151 people put to death so far this year — an average of one person every two days,” said James Lynch, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International. “The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated.”
The last time Saudi Arabia executed more than 150 people in a single year was when 192 executions were recorded in 1995. No one at Saudi Arabia’s Justice Ministry was immediately available to comment on the surge in the numbers of executions. But diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeals cases to be heard.
Saudi Arabia’s current King Salman rose to power after the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, and has moved to consolidate authority among his own branch of the royal family. Upon assuming power, he shook up the cabinet, appointed a new minister of justice, and placed functionaries loyal to him in positions of power throughout the state bureaucracy.
Saudi Arabia has long been ranked among the top five countries to use capital punishment. It ranked number three in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to figures from Amnesty International. The same five countries executed the most prisoners in the first six months of 2015.
However, things are about to get even crazier, as The BBC reports, Amnesty International has expressed alarm at reports that the authorities in Saudi Arabia are planning to execute dozens of people in a single day.