Aug 17, 2022 15:16 UTC
  •  Intl. rights group warns Saudi executions could hit record high this year

An international human rights organization has expressed grave concern over the alarming surge in executions in Saudi Arabia in the first half of the current year, saying the figure is almost twice the number during all of last year.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said executions in Saudi Arabia jumped to 120 during this period, with the country poised to surpass its record of executions in 2019, the Arabic-language Arabi 21 online newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The new statistics fly in the face of commitments given by Saudi authorities to curb the use of capital punishments, amid global anger and outrage.

Last year, a total of 65 people were executed in Saudi, a slight drop from the previous year, which ESOHR attributed partially to coronavirus restrictions.

“If Saudi Arabia continues to execute people at the same rate during the second half of 2022, then it will exceed the record of 186 executions in 2019,” the ESOHR said.

The group also found breaches of fair trial standards in multiple cases, saying it raises questions about the fairness of the process for death penalty trials in general in the country.

The ESOHR also said it identified the use of torture and revealed how those accused do not have access to a lawyer before court sessions begin, making it harder for them to fight their cases.

Some of those sentenced to death are facing execution for matters related to participation in pro-democracy protests and expression of views, it said.

Saudi Press Agency, a state-run news agency, said on March 12 that authorities had executed 81 people in one day for different offenses.

Of the 81 people, 73 were Saudi citizens, seven were Yemeni and one was a Syrian national.