Saudi Arabia Executes 15 People in 12 Days For alleged drug offences, Most of those people are migrants. 3 Pakistan, 4 Syria and 2 from Jordan.
Diplomat Times (Riyadh) – Saudi Arabia has executed 15 people for non-violent drug offences – some thought to be beheaded by sword – in the last 12 days, despite promising to end them.
In January 2021 the country announced a moratorium on drug-related executions. It came in the wake of the gruesome murder and dismembering of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018 by a Saudi death squad, a hit the CIA said was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But legal NGO Reprieve said that in the last fortnight the regime had quietly resumed secret executions for drug offences. Ten of those executed are foreign nationals, from Pakistan, Syria and Jordan. Five of them – including a man executed on Monday morning – are Saudi nationals. Because executions are carried out behind closed doors and bodies are not returned to families, methods of execution cannot be confirmed. However experts believe people are killed by a mixture of beheading by sword and by shooting.
Taha al-Hajji, a former Saudi defense lawyer who specialized in defending people on death row in Saudi Arabia, said executions for drugs had continued because they were only halted two years ago as a stunt to create good PR for the super-rich Gulf kingdom.
“The resumption of executions in drug cases after two years of moratorium reveals how Saudi Arabia uses its media power and influence to promote lies. An official promise is made and used politically to whiten its image for a period of time. Then when the lie has fulfilled its purpose, the killings begin again,” Hajji, who works for the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, a Europe-based human rights organization for documenting and promoting human rights in Saudi Arabia told VICE World News.
“It is impossible to believe Saudi propaganda about reform unless it is accompanied by legislation amending laws. The return of executions in drug cases confirms the regime’s complete lack of sincerity in respecting people’s lives and its tolerance for bloodshed,” said Hajji, who has had to leave Saudi Arabia for his own safety.
“To prove its seriousness, Saudi Arabia must formally change the penalty for deviating from the drug law. In the longer term, truly meaningful reform would require the creation of a penal code, since at the moment the Kingdom is a country with neither a penal code nor a constitution.”
Saudi Arabia has so far executed at least 135 people this year, a big rise compared to 2021 and 2020, despite repeated promises since 2018 to reduce capital punishment.
There were no drug-related executions carried out on 2021 for the first year in a decade, according to Harm Reduction International (HRI), which surveys the death penalty for drug offences. Before the moratorium was announced, there were at least 84 drug-related executions in 2019, and five in 2020 just before the moratorium was announced.
“Mohammed bin Salman has repeatedly touted his vision of progress, committing to reducing executions and ending the death penalty for drug offences,” said Maya Foa, Reprieve’s Director. “But as a bloody year of executions draws to a close, the Saudi authorities have begun executing drug offenders again, in large numbers and in secret.”
She said the latest executions came days after it was made official that bin Salman will face no consequences for ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. “Proof once again that when Saudi Arabia’s international partners signal that the regime can kill with impunity, the Crown Prince and his subordinates get the message – and act on it,” she added.
Editing by Shasi Kumar Input from Vice Media | Human Rights Watch