Executions in Saudi Arabia have nearly doubled under King Salman and his son, de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, activist groups said on Tuesday, detailing cases of torture and other human rights violations.
Capital punishment has soared from an average of 70.8 executions a year from 2010 to 2014, to 129.5 a year since King Salman took power in 2015, according to a report by Reprieve and the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights.
More than 1,000 death sentences have been carried out under the current leadership, the NGOs said, after verifying official announcements with investigations and interviews with lawyers, family members and activists. Saudi Arabia executed 147 people last year, the report said, a figure confirmed by an AFP tally compiled from government announcements.
Saudi Arabia, which is one of the world's leading executioners, announced 81 executions in a single day last March it said were for terrorism-related offences. The country has undergone rapid social reforms in recent years but activists accuse Crown Prince Mohammed of also overseeing a harsh crackdown on critics.
"The Saudi death penalty machine chews up children, protesters, vulnerable women in domestic service, unwitting drug mules and people whose only 'crime' was owning banned books or speaking to foreign journalists."
According to the report, the six bloodiest years for executions in Saudi's recent history have all occurred under the current leadership.
Since 2013, at least 15 people have been executed for offences committed when they minors, and 31 women were put to death from 2010 to 2021, including 23 foreign nationals and 13 who were domestic workers.