ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Rights groups say Saudi executions up sharply under MBS, King Salman

Report notes judicial slayings since 2015 at an annual average of 129, marking six bloodiest years in recent history; also alleges torture and unfair trials

In this photo released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, speaks to his father, King Salman, right, at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2018. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
In this photo released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, speaks to his father, King Salman, right, at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2018. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Executions in Saudi Arabia have nearly doubled under King Salman and his son, de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, activist groups said on Tuesday, detailing cases of torture and other human rights violations.

Capital punishment has soared from an average of 70.8 executions a year from 2010 to 2014, to 129.5 a year since King Salman took power in 2015, according to a report by Reprieve and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights.

More than 1,000 death sentences have been carried out under the current leadership, the NGOs said, after verifying official announcements with investigations and interviews with lawyers, family members, and activists.

Saudi Arabia executed 147 people last year, the report said, a figure confirmed by an AFP tally compiled from government announcements.

Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading executioners, announced 81 executions in a single day last March it said were for terrorism-related offenses.

The country has undergone rapid social reforms in recent years but activists accuse Crown Prince Mohammed of also overseeing a harsh crackdown on critics.

“Every data point in this report is a human life taken,” said Reprieve director Maya Foa.

“The Saudi death penalty machine chews up children, protesters, vulnerable women in domestic service, unwitting drug mules, and people whose only ‘crime’ was owning banned books or speaking to foreign journalists.”

According to the report, the six bloodiest years for executions in Saudi’s recent history have all occurred under the current leadership.

Since 2013, at least 15 people have been executed for offenses committed when they were minors and 31 women were put to death from 2010 to 2021, including 23 foreign nationals and 13 domestic workers.

The 58-page document also alleged “systemic” torture and due process violations, including cases of unfair trials and the torture of child defendants and women.

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