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  • Human rights defenders had reported that Pakistanis, more than any other foreigners, have been subjected to execution in the kingdom in recent years.

    Human rights defenders had reported that Pakistanis, more than any other foreigners, have been subjected to execution in the kingdom in recent years. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 January 2020
Opinion

The organization said the figure is the highest in a calendar year since it started tracking down executions six years ago.

184 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2019, according to a statement released Monday by United Kingdom-based human rights organization Reprieve.

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The organization said the figure is the highest in a calendar year since it started tracking down executions six years ago.

“This is another grim milestone for Mohammed Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia,” Reprieve director Maya Foa said.

The group noted that on April 23, 2019, Riyadh executed 37 people in a single day, including at least three who were children at the time of their alleged offenses.

The human rights advocates reported the case of Abdulkarim al-Hawaj who was beaten, tortured with electricity and chained with his hands above his head until he “confessed” to terrorism offenses, after taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations. 

Another executed person, Mujtaba al-Sweikat, was arrested at the airport on his way to study at Western Michigan University. He was severely beaten and convicted based on a confession extracted through torture.

Reprieve's statement noted that the Saudi crown prince (MBS) had said in a 2018 televised interview that the kingdom was planning to restrict the death penalty. 

“We believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished ... We will not get it 100 percent, but to reduce it big time," MBS had said at the time, adding his country would introduce "alternative punishments" such as life imprisonment.

Yet according to the organization, the number of executions is still on the rise, with four executions already reported this year.

“The Kingdom’s rulers believe they have total impunity to flout international law when it suits them. A country that tortures and executes children should be a pariah state, not preparing to host the next meeting of the G20,” Reprieve’s statement quoted Foa.

The oil-rich country will become in November the first Arab nation to host the G20 (Group of  20) summit.

Reprieve also detailed that among the individuals executed, 88 were from Saudi Arabia, 90 were foreign nationals and 6 were of unknown nationality. These figures were compiled from official Saudi reports, including the Saudi Press Agency.

Human rights defenders had reported that Pakistanis more than any other foreign nationals have been subjected to execution in the kingdom in recent years.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in 2018 that Pakistanis imprisoned in Saudi Arabia suffer long periods of detention without charge or trial. They don’t have legal assistance and are pressured to sign confessions and accept predetermined prison sentences. 

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