Saudi executions hit decades-low after laws changed in 2020

Cairo, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- The number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia in 2020 hit a low not seen in decades after the kingdom introduced criminal justice reforms, a report issued by a Saudi government organization revealed Monday.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) said it had documented 27 executions in 2020, compared to the 184 recorded the year before, an 85 percent decline from 2019.

“The commission welcomes this news as a sign that the kingdom and its justice system are focusing more on rehabilitation and prevention than solely on punishment,” HRC president Awwad al-Awwad said in the report.

Al-Awwad added that halting executions for drug-related crimes meant that Saudi Arabia “is giving more non-violent criminals a second chance.”

Last year, Amnesty International said the number of people put to death in 2019 was the highest number the NGO has ever recorded in a single year in the kingdom and the third-highest globally.

Executions in 2019 in the country, which the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) called a “new record,” increased by 23 percent, from 149 in 2018.

The HRC report said that in 2018 Saudi Arabia banned death sentences for crimes committed by minors, a decision that two years later would be applied retroactively.

“Those sentenced to death for crimes committed while minors, are now being re-sentenced to a maximum of 10 years detainment in a juvenile correction facility,” the report clarified.

In recent years, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death and imprisonment in Saudi Arabia for being involved in terror crimes, although human rights organizations have denounced that the defendants do not always receive a fair trial.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has been implementing a series of reforms within the framework of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is aimed at modernizing the country.

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