Mohammed bin Salman has vowed to reduce the practice – but there is little evidence of that
A reported 12 executions have been completed in Saudi Arabia in the past 10 days for drug offences after two years without any.
The report by human rights organisation Reprieve suggests the executions, mostly beheadings with a sword, are still ingrained in the society despite leader Mohammed bin Salman vowing to reduce the practice.
Three of those executed were Pakistani, four Syrian, two Jordanian and three Saudi, and all were for non-violent drug charges. They were all men. Another man from Jordan is believed to have been transferred to the prison wing for execution.
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said: “Mohammed bin Salman has repeatedly touted his vision of progress, committing to reducing executions and ending the death penalty for drug offences. But as a bloody year of executions draws to a close, the Saudi authorities have begun executing drug offenders again, in large numbers and in secret.”
Crown Prince bin Salman had in 2018 told Time magazine that his administration was looking to “minimise” capital punishment, with only those found guilty of murder or manslaughter being handed a death sentence.
After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter who was killed by a hit squad, it was thought that Saudi Arabia could end the law on capital punishment.
The Saudi Arabian human rights commission said that 2020 had the fewest executions in decades, decreasing by 85 per cent on the previous year to number 27 in total.
But in 2022, 81 individuals were executed for a number of alleged offences, including those related to terrorism as well as murder, armed robbery and arms smuggling.
Ms Foa added: “The latest execution came on the day after it was made official that MBS will face no consequences for ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
“Proof once again that when Saudi Arabia’s international partners signal that the regime can kill with impunity, the Crown Prince and his subordinates get the message – and act on it.”