Saudi Arabian authorities carried out the execution of a man on October 2, Sunday, bringing the tally of people put to death in 2017 to 100, of which 60 have been executed in the last three months, Amnesty International said in an article on their own website.
"Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, director of research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.
"If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely."
Out of the executions carried out so far in this year, 40% were drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.
On 13 September, Said al-Sai'ari was executed in the city of Najran, in the southwest of Saudi Arabia. He was found guilty of the murder of another Saudi Arabian man, by the same court that concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict him.
"Said al-Sai'ari was put to death in spite of the lack of evidence against him. This just shows how facile it is for the Saudi Arabian authorities to resort to this inhumane, and more crucially, irreversible punishment," said Lynn Maalouf.
Death penalty as a tool to crush dissent
"The Saudi authorities have been using the death penalty as a tool to crush dissent and rein in minorities with callous disregard for human life. They should immediately quash these sentences and ensure that all trials meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty," said Lynn Maalouf.
At least 33 members of Saudi Arabia’s Shi'a Muslim community currently face the death penalty. All were accused of activities deemed a risk to national security. Among them are Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, and Dawood al-Marhoon, who were arrested for alleged offences committed when they were under 18 and who said that they were tortured in order to make them "confess".
Last month the family of another young man Abdulkareem al-Hawaj were informed by court officials that the Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence for offences related to his involvement in anti-government protests. Al-Hawaj was only 16 when he took part in the protests; he has exhausted all his appeals and can be executed as soon as the King ratifies his sentence. They are all at imminent risk of execution.
Saudi Arabia uses the death penalty for a wide range of offences that are not accepted as the "most serious crimes" under international human rights law, which are limited to crimes involving intentional killings.
Saudi Arabia is one of the top executioners in the world, with more than 2,000 people executed between 1985 and 2016.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.