In a new report presented by the Anti Death Penalty Project at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, it has been revealed that Saudi Arabia has executed more than 130 people so far in 2019 alone. Most of those executed have been opponents of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whose growing grip over the country has had devastating implications for those who dare to speak up against his policies.
Of those executed or on trial to be executed, most are prominent political opponents of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, clerics, or human rights defenders. At least six of those executed were children at the time of their arrest by the Saudi state.
The report also highlighted the human rights abuses surrounding the illegal detentions and executions, with serious concerns regarding the reported use of systematic torture and unfair trials resulting in the death sentences.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, who presented and opened the report findings, stated:
I have been very concerned about the way in which Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is being presented to the world as being some sort of rogue activity and not part of systemic human rights abuses inside Saudi Arabia. The point of this Report is to highlight the extent to which there has been a dramatic escalation of human rights violations by Saudi Arabia. The cruelty of the system is so great.”
Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a growing movement of scrutiny towards its human rights abuses since the murder of outspoken journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, where his graphic and bloody murder has been largely attributed to have been carried out under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The number of children, many of whom are part of the Shia minority of the country, who have been arrested are shocking as well. Children as young as 13, such as Murtaja Qureiris, have been put on death row for doing something as simple as riding a bicycle and shouting “the people demand human rights!”. Many more have been arrested as young teenagers for doing something as little as exercising their right to free speech.
With 2019 coming to a close, the shocking number of those executed remains a stark reminder to the danger of allowing Saudi to move with impunity. Ignoring human rights, Saudi Arabia, increasingly under the complete control of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, continues to arrest, torture, and kill those who dare support human rights or oppose Salman’s monarachy.