Published:Monday, 02 Jan 2017 09:01
Saudi Arabia executed more than 150 prisoners under their strict Islamic laws, new figures have shown.
The ultra-conservative kingdom, one of the world’s most prolific executioners, punishes crimes such as murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy with the death penalty.
According to Amnesty International a total of 153 executions were carried out in 2016, slightly down in the 158 carried out the previous year.
Saudi Arabia executed more than 150 prisoners under their strict Islamic laws, new figures have shown
Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for ‘terrorism’ offences on a single day last January.
They included prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions, leading Riyadh to sever relations.
Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword and the grisly event can often draw a small crowd.
Human rights group Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.
And the level of executions was criticised today by Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, who said the kingdom is ‘making a mockery of justice’.
Mr Hogarth told the Independent: ‘The death penalty is always cruel and unnecessary, but the Saudi justice system lacks evens the basics of a fair trial system.
‘It’s truly frightening that its courts are sentencing so many people to death… Saudi Arabia is making a mockery of justice and dozens of people are paying with their lives.
‘It’s time that ‘strategic allies’ like the UK started speaking out about this shocking state of affairs. For too long Downing Street has bent over backwards to avoid ‘offending’ the Saudi royals.’