By Staff writer
Human rights group says more than 100 will be put to death in H1 if current pace of executions continues
Saudi Arabia will have put to death more than 100 people in the first six months of this year if it continues to carry out executions at its current pace, according to Amnesty International.
At least 94 people have been executed so far this year, higher than at the same point last year, and a trend described as "appalling" by the human rights group.
At least 158 people were put to death in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the highest recorded figure in the country since 1995, Amnesty said in a statement.
“Executions in Saudi Arabia have been surging dramatically for two years now and this appalling trend shows no sign of slowing,” said James Lynch, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International.
“The steep increase in executions is even more appalling given the pervasive flaws in Saudi Arabia’s justice system which mean that it is entirely routine for people to be sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials. The Saudi Arabian authorities should end their reliance on this cruel and inhuman form of punishment and establish an official moratorium on executions immediately.”
He said the case of 21-year-old Ali al-Nimr who was sentenced to death based on “confessions” he says were extracted through torture, provides a glaring example of the arbitrary use of the death penalty.
Al-Nimr, who was arrested after taking part in anti-government protests, was sentenced to death by a special security and counter-terrorism court for a series of offences such as attacking security forces and committing armed robbery.
He was just 17 when he was arrested. International human rights law prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18, Amnesty said.
“Ali al-Nimr has already spent two years on death row – instead of forcing him to spend a single day longer awaiting execution the Saudi Arabian authorities should quash his conviction and order a re-trial immediately in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty,” said Lynch.