The annual rate of executions in Saudi Arabia has almost doubled since King Salman and his crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, came to power in 2015, and a report published by two organizations spoke of torture and human rights violations in the kingdom, which denies these accusations.
A joint report by the anti-death penalty organization “Reprieve” and the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights stated that the Kingdom carried out an average of 70.8 executions per year during the period from 2010 to 2014, and during the period from 2015 to 2022, it carried out 129.5 executions per year. average annually, an increase of 82 percent.
The report, which was seen by Al-Hurra, spoke of Saudi Arabia’s “flagrant violation of the right to life,” and said that “the Kingdom executed no less than 1,390 people during the period from 2010 to 2022, making it one of the most executing countries at the level of death sentences.” the world”.
Saudi Arabia executed 147 people last year, according to the investigation, the same number collected by Agence France-Presse based on official data.
Saudi Arabia, one of the largest executioners in the world, executed 81 people in one day last March on terrorism-related charges, sparking great international condemnation.
The report confirms that since King Salman ascended to the throne of the Kingdom on January 23, 2015, the bloodiest executions in the Kingdom’s modern history have taken place.
On the other hand, the Saudi security expert, Ahmed Al-Rukban, considers the executions “to preserve internal security and humanity and not to disturb Saudi security,” noting that this word does not exist in the Saudi constitution, but rather it is called “the implementation of Sharia rulings.”
He said in statements to Al-Hurra: We have legal sanctions and courts that look into various cases, and we are a sovereign country that has the right to organize and maintain its internal security in its own way.
He added, “The execution may be carried out for assaulting others or for participating in a terrorist act.”
The Saudi crown prince said in a previous interview with “The Atlantic” magazine that the kingdom “got rid” of the death penalty, except in cases of murder or when “a person threatens the lives of many people,” according to a text quoted from the interview published by local media last March.
“to silence dissidents”
However, the report notes that “the death penalty is routinely used for crimes other than murder, and in order to silence opponents and protesters.”
“The Saudi authorities are following this bloody path for the purpose of intimidation and political repression,” Taha al-Hajji, legal director of the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights, told AFP.
“The huge rise in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia during the reign of Mohammed bin Salman represents a crisis that the international community cannot continue to ignore,” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, told ABC.
On the other hand, Al-Rukban told Al-Hurra that “the kingdom cannot use deterrent sanctions against political opponents, but rather it wants to preserve security and not disturb the Saudi cohesion.”
He added: “Whoever wants to disrupt this structure and security and achieve certain goals, legal provisions must be applied to him, which may be sentencing him to prison, taking pledges, or changing his behavior through some institutes established to deal with his psychological condition.
And he considered that “these are not opponents, but rather they are confused, and we deal with them according to psychological data,” adding that “Saudi Arabia is one of the best countries in the world in terms of material, economic and security stability, and everyone takes his right, whether man or woman, and therefore it is very difficult to believe that the words of dozens of Only the opposition is correct, and the rest of the people, 30 million citizens, are not successful. This is an incorrect equation.”
Discrimination in law enforcement
The report concluded, “Detailing the gross violations of human rights as a result of the continued application of the death penalty to accused children, women, foreign nationals, and non-homicide perpetrators.”
He considers that “Saudi Arabia’s application of the death penalty is riddled with discrimination and injustice, and that the Saudi regime has always lied to the international community about its application of this penalty.”
However, Al-Rukban denies any distinction between Saudis and foreigners.
The report pointed out, “Executions in Saudi Arabia have always been shrouded in secrecy.
The government refuses to publish data on executions, despite repeated warnings from the United Nations in this regard, and does not notify families of executions or of returning bodies to their families.
The report considers that “this lack of transparency enables Saudi Arabia to cover up its violations and hinders the efforts of other countries and organizations to hold it accountable.”
However, Al-Rukban believes that “the report was not right in this particular issue, because any person who is executed has family, relatives and friends, and therefore it is very difficult to hide such an issue, and this is a severe exaggeration in criticizing the kingdom.”
He said that the trials go through very long stages, starting from the preliminary investigation to the cassation, and a number of judges in the royal court confirmed the validity of the verdict. The majority of what is approved by the High Commissioner is done after making sure that the decision is 200 percent correct.
He said, “Some cases extend to ten years in the hope that the victim’s family will waive the execution of the death sentence, and the sentence is not carried out directly, even if the person confesses.”
And Saudi Arabia executed in 2022 twice the number of those who were executed in 2021, according to a statistic revealed by Agence France-Presse, and indicates a sharp increase in this procedure, which is strongly condemned by international human rights organizations.
The 58-page report detailed “systematic” torture and due process violations, including unfair trials and torture of minors and women defendants.
However, Al-Rukban considers that “the organizations that raise these matters are without evidence and want to disturb the kingdom and inflame some opponents or fugitives from justice who are abroad.”