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The first half of 2018: High execution rates show false promises of the Saudi crown prince

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Since the beginning of 2018 and up until the end of June 2018, the Saudi government has implemented 52 death sentences; none of which were sentenced in public trials or observed by independent civil society organisations or free media. Limited details available via official media about executions carried out in 2018 indicate that Saudi Arabia is continuing to follow the same pattern it has always followed.

It continues to implement death sentences on charges that are not considered ‘most serious’ according to international law.

None of these trials ha d public attendance of civil society, and there are no independent human rights organisations, or free media involved in monitoring these trials.

Besides, Saudi Arabia has not given any assurances regarding the concerns expressed by UN mechanisms on the lack of adequate fair trials, including that sentences that are based on confessions obtained under torture.

During six months of 2018, capital sentences extended to 22 individuals of various nationalities including the Pakistani (9), Egyptian (1), Jordanian (3), Nigerian (3), Indonesian (1), Syrian (1), Lebanese (1), Sudanese (1) and Yemeni (1).

These executions also extended to one of the stateless in Saudi Arabia, who are known by Bedon, so the percentage of non-Saudis represents 42% of the total execution sentences overall.

With regard to the charges on which death sentences were based on, 23 individuals faced drugs charges , which represent 44% of the total executions during the first six months, despite international law stipulating that death sentences should be limited to the most serious crimes, which not including drug offenses.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed in a media meeting on April 6, 2018 that he would work to limit the death penalty, adding that there is work on the implementation of the new laws have already started, but “it might take one year or more to finish them, and we are not going to abolish executions 100%, but we will decrease it as much as we can “.

However, after this statement and until the end of the first half of 2018, 11 execution sentences were carried out, where some of them were on non-serious charges.

Furthermore, despite promises of reform, the first half of 2018 witnessed a rise in executions’ percentage by 27% compared to the first half of 2017, where the numbers of the executions in 2018 were 52 compared to 41 executions in 2017.

The European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights believes that the figures it monitored since the beginning of 2018, confirms that Saudi Arabia is continuing its policies without any reform or changes, and the recent years’ figures are even worse.

The organisation has identified executions since 2004 and showed an overall increase in the percentage, in addition to the 11 executed personals since the declaration of Crown Prince to limit executions, which it appears that what Saudi Arabia is doing so far in the execution case is merely a media declaration.

Moreover, the organisation also believes that these figures raise concerns for the detainees who are facing such sentences, including Abbas Alhassan and the two detainees for spying charges for Iran, regarding who the special rapporteurs expressed concerns for their cases due to the unfair trials and torture.

Also, there are some fears that Saudi Arabia may issue death sentences against some of the detainees who were arrested on September 2017, after it accused them in its media by espionage and treason.

Likewise, it raises concerns about the life of 8 children, especially with Saudi Arabia’s bloody record of child execution.

Furthermore, there are growing concerns about other detainees who are facing charges related to participating in demonstrations, adding to that the official media reports regarding death sentences issued by the Specialized Criminal Court where the accused individuals couldn’t be identified due to the confidentiality of trials, absence of free and independent media and the decline of the civil society to the minimum during the last decades; including what is reported by the newspapers on June 7th, 2018 about issuing first instance death sentences against 4 individuals.

Through the organisation’s monitoring of the execution’s file in Saudi Arabia it did not observe any serious and concrete steps following the Crown Prince statements in April 2018, such as the suspension of executions until the completion of the new laws and retrials or ensuring fair trials through enabling the independent civil society to practice an active role.

The first half of the year 2018 has gone, and highlighted the irreverence of Saudi Arabia for the majority of human rights in the country, mainly the right to life; and the increasing numbers prove the enmity of officials to the human rights system – and foremost among them King Salman, where executions are carried out only after his signature.


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