RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International warned the Saudi Arabian government is planning to execute more than 50 people convicted of terrorism-related offenses in the coming days.
The human-rights group said “national media outlets close to the Saudi Arabian authorities” said the group will be put to death in a single day. Okaz reported 55 people would be put to death for “terrorist crimes” that led to the death of 171 people. The pro-government news organization Al-Riyadh reported in a now-deleted story 52 would be executed. Neither stated specifics about the executions. Some of those who face execution are affiliated with al-Qaida and attempted to overthrow the government, Okaz reported.
Amnesty International says that among the prisoners set to be executed are five Shia Muslim activists, three of whom are juvenile offenders. The mothers of the five have requested clemency from King Salman, and experts with the European Parliament and the United Nations have previously asked Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of one of the juveniles, Ali al-Nimr. International law bars the execution of people under the age of 18.
“Saudi Arabia’s macabre spike in executions this year, coupled with the secretive and arbitrary nature of court decisions and executions in the kingdom, leave us no option but to take these latest warning signs very seriously,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia has long been one of the most prolific executioners in the world. In a 2015 report, the agency reported the country frequently imposes the death penalty for non-violent crimes that include “sorcery”, adultery and drug offenses.
“The authorities carried out dozens of executions, many by public beheading. Those executed included both Saudi nationals and foreign migrants,” the organization said.
“Beheading or otherwise executing dozens of people in a single day would mark a dizzying descent to yet another outrageous low for Saudi Arabia, whose authorities have continued to show stone-faced cynicism and even open defiance when authorities and ordinary people around the world question their sordid record on the use of the death penalty,” Lynch said.