The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is likely to execute 150 persons this year says international human rights group Reprieve. The executed are mostly beheaded; firing squads are also used. Authorities sometimes display the executed bodies in public.
In 2015, executions went up by 76% as compared to 2014. 158 people were executed in 2015.
Persons on the death row include Ali al-Nimr who was just 17-years-old when he was detained for illegal demonstration and other offences, such as “explaining how to give first aid to protesters”. He has been sentenced to death by crucifixion. His uncle, Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr, was executed on January 2 this year, along with 47 others for criticising the authoritarian government. Reprieve said at least four of those were executed for taking part in political protests.
Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher, who were minors at the time of their offence, are also on the execution list.
International law disallows the use of the death penalty against minors and Saudi Arabia has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty. However, in 2016, Saudi Arabia reportedly executed four minors including Ali Saeed al-Rebh, a pro-democracy protester.
Amnesty International said that least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of more than 50% than the previous year and the most since 1989. This figure does not include data from China where executions are treated as a state secret.
China, Iran and Saudi Arabia have sentenced people to death for drug trafficking, corruption, “adultery” and “blasphemy”.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the USA — in that order — were the top five executioners in the world in 2015. 140 states in the world have abolished the death penalty.
Saudi Arabia is the number one buyer of American and British-made arms and remains a close ally of the West.