[JURIST] Saudi Arabia officials on Sunday beheaded convicted murderer Abdelrahman al-Jahni, the fifth person to be executed since King Salman [BBC profile] took office last month. Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people [AFP report] so far this year, and the number of executions has significantly increased in recent years to reach around 80 annually. A significant number of the executions are completed by beheadings.
The human rights record of Saudi Arabia [JURIST news archive] has drawn heavy criticism from international rights groups following the ratification [JURIST report] of new counterterrorism laws by former King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz [official profile] in early February 2014. In September two experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged [JURIST report] Saudi Arabia to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty. Last February JURIST Guest Columnist Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch argued [JURIST op-ed] that Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism law is a vague, catch-all document that can—and probably will—be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way. Also in February 2014 Amnesty International criticized [JURIST report] the Saudi Arabian counterterrorism law on the basis that the law will deepen existing patterns of human rights violations and will be used to crack down on peaceful dissent.