The Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia
The protesters, the king and the sword: Saudi Arabia’s frenzied race to silence political opponents.
For over a decade, Saudi Arabia has ranked among the top five executing countries in the world. This trend shows no sign of stopping. In 2015, the Saudi authorities executed 157 people, a sharp increase on the 90 executions reported in 2014. On 2 January 2016, the Kingdom executed 47 people in just one day.
Reprieve’s recent report, Justice Crucified: the Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, found that 72% of those facing execution in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death for non-violent offences, including attendance at political protests and drug offences.
Other crimes that are punishable by death include adultery, blasphemy and sorcery. Execution methods include beheading, ‘crucifixion’ (which involves beheading followed by public display of the body), firing squad and stoning.
The ‘Arab Spring‘, the political and democratic protests that hit the Middle East from 2010, also spread to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. People throughout the Kingdom took to the streets to demand political reform and equality. As a result, hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted for protesting on the basis of dubious evidence.
In the midst of this wrestling match between the Government and pro-democracy protesters, seven individuals, including 3 children have been sentenced to death for allegedly participating in protests.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr
On 14 February 2012, at the age of 17, Ali was arrested for allegedly participating in anti-government protests in the eastern district of Qatif of Saudi Arabia. Two years later he was sentenced to death by beheading’, based solely on a fabricated statement he was tortured into signing and that was used as an alleged confession. Ali is now facing imminent execution.
Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon
A second Saudi juvenile is facing imminent death by beheading for his alleged role in pro-democracy protests. Dawoud al-Marhoon was 17 when he was arrested without a warrant by Saudi security forces in May 2012. He was tortured and made to sign a ‘confession’ that was later relied on to convict him.
Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher
Abdullah was only 15 when he was arrested for allegedly participating in protests for democracy. He was shot at and injured by security forces, and tortured into signing a false ‘confession’. He is now awaiting execution in solitary confinement in a prison 1,000km away from his family home.