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Executions rise sharply under Saudi crown prince

The Saudi kingdom must be held to account for its use of death penalty, says human rights organisation Reprieve

Executions in Saudi Arabia rose significantly in the first eight months after Mohammed bin Salman became deputy crown prince, a London-based human rights organization said.

According to Reprieve, 133 people were executed between June 2017 and March 2018, nearly twice as many as the 67 recorded during the eight months before his rise to power.

Saudi Arabia has executed 147 people in 2018 and around 700 people since 2014. Almost half of those who received capital punishment were foreign nationals, according to Reprieve's report.

They included Indonesian housekeeper Tuti Tursilawati, who was executed after being sentenced to death for the murder of her boss, despite her claim that she had acted in self-defence after he tried to rape her. The report criticized Saudi Arabia for ignoring international conventions as it had refused to notify Tursilawati's family and Indonesian officials before her execution.

The report also said 39 per cent of those executed were sentenced to death due to drug-related crimes, with the number totalling 246 since 2014.

Khashoggi murder

Reprieve's report underlined that Saudi Arabia came under international focus following the murder in October of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, adding that at least 54 people are facing death sentences for opposing the government.

"Despite promises of reform from the crown prince, the kingdom is executing drug offenders at an alarmingly high rate, and at least 30 people — including some arrested as teenagers — face imminent execution for exercising their democratic rights," Reprieve's Director Maya Foa said.

"Jamal Khashoggi's murder exposed the brutality of Saudi Arabia's rulers to the world," she said.

"Now the kingdom must be held to account for its use of the death penalty as political prisoners and vulnerable economic migrants await the executioner's blade."

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