Saudi Arabia: Significant increase in execution figures last year

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has seen a sharp increase in the number of executions in 2021 compared to 2020, when official Saudi institutions praised the decline in executions. The European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) has observed the execution of 67 death sentences since the beginning of 2021, a 148% increase from 2020, when Saudi Arabia carried out 27 executions, according to the official Human Rights Commission.

Over the past three years, the number of executions has fluctuated remarkably after an apparent increase since King Salman came to power in January 2015. In 2019, Saudi Arabia recorded its highest number of executions, 186, only to reach its lowest level the following year, with 27 executions.

In his interview with Time magazine in April 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised to significantly reduce the use of the death penalty. Since that time, however, Saudi Arabia has carried out 385 executions, only half of which were for the most serious charges.

According to official Interior Ministry data, Saudi Arabia carried out 67 executions last year, including 66 men and one woman. The nationalities of the victims were as follows: 51 Saudis, seven Yemenis, four Egyptians, two Pakistanis, and one each from Chad, Sudan, and Nigeria.

Although Saudi Arabia has overturned several death sentences against minors-such as Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, and Dawood al-Marhoun-and canceled the request to impose the death penalty on Mohammed al-Faraj and others, it continues to circumvent its laws to execute others who were arrested after reaching the legal age of 18 but against whom prosecutors filed charges while they were minors.

Further information:
ESOHR: Saudi executions in 2021 – Fluctuating political stability