Saudi Arabia: 100 people executed so far this year

Grim milestone reported by Saudi Press Agency earlier today

In August alone, the country carried out an average of four executions per week 

‘The authorities’ relentless killing spree raises serious fears for the lives of young men on death row’ - Heba Morayef

Responding to news from the Saudi Press Agency that Saudi Arabia has already carried out its 100th execution of the year so far, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:

“In clear contrast to Saudi Arabia’s repeated promises to limit its use of the death penalty, the Saudi authorities have already executed 100 people this year, revealing their chilling disregard for the right to life. 

“The authorities’ relentless killing spree raises serious fears for the lives of young men on death row who were under 18 at the time of the crimes.

“Amnesty has documented numerous cases in which the authorities have sentenced people to death for anything from a few tweets to drug-related offences, following grossly unfair trials that fell far short of international human rights standards.

“In August alone, Saudi Arabia executed an average of four people per week, including one Pakistani man who was executed for drug smuggling. The death penalty is prohibited under international law for drug-related offences, which do not fall under the category of ‘most serious crimes’.”

The Saudi Press Agency regularly reports on executions and this morning confirmed the 100th execution carried out this year. The real number of executions may be higher in light of the news agency’s record of under-reporting on the actual number of executions in the country. 

Record-high numbers 

Courts in Saudi Arabia continue to regularly sentence people to death. In July this year, the country’s notorious Specialised Criminal Court sentenced the retired teacher Mohammad al-Ghamdi to death solely for tweets in which he had criticised the Saudi authorities. His UK-based brother, Nasser, told Amnesty that the death sentence was an act of reprisal against Nasser’s political views. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 196 people - the highest annual number of executions Amnesty has recorded in the country in the past 30 years. The number of executions in 2022 was three times higher than the number of executions carried out in 2021, and at least seven times higher than the figure for 2020. In November 2022, the Saudi authorities resumed executions for drug-related offences, ending a moratorium on such executions which the Saudi Human Rights Commission said had been in place since January 2020. In addition, the Saudi authorities have continued to execute individuals for a wide range of crimes despite their repeated promises to limit executions in cases where the death penalty is not mandated under Sharia.

View latest press releases