For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Executions Double Under Saudi Crown Prince

WASHINGTON - New analysis of executions in Saudi Arabia by Reprieve shows that since Mohammed bin Salman was appointed as Crown Prince in June 2017, the rate of executions in the Kingdom has doubled. 

The analysis shows:

  • In the eight months after Mohammed bin Salman was appointed Crown Prince (July 2017 – February 2018 inclusive) there have been 133 executions in Saudi Arabia compared with 67 in the 8 months preceding (October 2016 – May 2017 inclusive). 
  • If this rate continues (on average just over 16 per month), 2018 could see 200 executions, the highest number of executions ever recorded in Saudi Arabia in one year.
  • 18 young men are currently facing imminent execution for protest-related offences under the wide-ranging “anti-terrorism” laws.
  • 8 of those were children at the time of their alleged offences.
  • In 2018, there have been 33 executions so far – 17, or 52%, have been for drug smuggling and 48% for murder.

In October 2015, David Cameron pledged, in an interview with Channel 4 News, that he would intervene in the case of three Saudi protesters, Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, Ali al-Nimr and Dawood al-Marhoon, who were facing beheading despite being children at the time of arrest. The then foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, later told the House of Commons he had received assurances Ali and others would not be executed. Despite this, the three still have not had their death sentences commuted and face imminent execution. Reprieve is aware of five other juveniles in the same position.

UK police officers, through the College of Policing, have been involved in training in cyber-monitoring techniques that they openly admit have led to torture and been used to justify death sentences.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said: 

“The doubling of executions under the new Crown Prince reveals that, beneath his glossy public image, Mohammed bin Salman is one of the most brutal leaders in the Kingdom’s recent history. Protesters, including some who were children at the time, have had the death penalty confirmed despite allegations of torture and forced confessions. When she meets the Crown Prince, Theresa May should urge him to commute the sentences of all child protesters facing execution.”


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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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