[JURIST] Saudi Arabia’s flawed judicial system has resulted a surge of executions following unfair trials, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Tuesday. According to AI, 175 people have been executed over the past 12 months with an average of one person put to death every two days. Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, stated, “[s]entencing hundreds of people to death after deeply flawed legal proceedings is utterly shameful.” Many individuals that have been executed in the past months are reportedly juveniles, mentally ill and foreigners. AI is urging Saudi Arabian officials to provide fair trials and adopt international standards to provide just punishment.
Saudi Arabia’s justice system has drawn international criticism for perceived human rights abuses in recent years. In January a Saudi judge sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair to an additional five years in jail [JURIST report] after he refused to show remorse for “showing disrespect” to authorities and creating an unauthorized association. In December a Saudi court ordered [JURIST report] the criminal cases against two women’s rights activists be transferred to a special tribunal for terrorism. The women were arrested for attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the UAE. In October a Saudi Arabia court sentenced three lawyers to between five and eight years in prison for criticizing the justice system [JURIST report] on Twitter by accusing authorities of carrying out arbitrary detentions. Earlier that month AI issued a report claiming that Saudi Arabia persecutes rights activists and silences government critics [JURIST report], especially in the years since the Arab Spring in 2011. Saudi Arabia has also faced sharp criticism for its high number of executions. Last September two experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Saudi Arabia to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty [JURIST report] following an increase in executions, with a significant number of the executions completed by beheading.