More than 150 executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2016. At least 153 people, including some juveniles and some non-violent drug offenders, have been killed so far, according to data collected and published Monday by the human rights organization Reprieve.
“Saudi Arabia’s 2016 execution total is fast approaching last year’s shocking high, with some 153 prisoners killed,” said Reprieve’s director Maya Foa in a press release. “Among those executed were political protesters, people arrested for alleged drug offenses, prisoners who were tortured into ‘confessions,’ and juveniles.”
One hundred fifty-eight executions were carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2015, including 63 for nonviolent drug crimes, according to Human Rights Watch. This year, 23 people were executed for drug offenses and at least four juveniles were killed during a mass execution in January. Many of the drug offenders were trafficking victims forced into drug smuggling. Reprieve also reported juveniles on death row were subject to severe mistreatment including being beaten and isolated in solitary confinement.
An estimated 47 of those executed were put on trial in Saudi Arabia’s secret Specialized Criminal Court in the capital of Riyadh. In December, the kingdom sentenced 15 people to death at the secret court for spying in Iran.
A petition that circulated on the internet last year urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to step in and stop the execution of a youth activist named Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, who was put on death row after being accused of crimes related to anti-government protests he participated in when he was 17 years old. In January 2016, a juvenile named Ali al-Ribh was arrested in school for “protest-related charges,” tortured into a false confession and executed.
Human Rights Watch lists numerous other human rights violations happening in Saudi Arabia including repression of peaceful activism, discrimination against women, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers and unlawful airstrikes against forces in Yemen. In November, some Saudi Arabian social media users called for a Saudi woman to be executed after she posted a picture of herself on Twitter in public without a hijab. The woman was arrested and imprisoned for violating the country’s moral code.