[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Monday that Saudi Arabia has executed a record 151 people this year, the highest number since 1995. In 2014 the total number of executions carried out was 90, and so far this year the number is up by 68 percent. AI said that almost half of all the executions carried out in 2015 were for offenses that are not considered “most serious crimes” under the international human rights laws. Saudi Arabia also reportedly continues to impose the death sentence on individuals under the age of 18, violating child human rights laws. AI’s James Lynch said, “Instead of intimidating people with the threat of state sanctioned killing, the Saudi Arabian authorities should halt all impending executions and urgently establish a moratorium on executions as well as overhaul the Kingdom’s deeply flawed justice system.”
Saudi Arabia’s justice system has drawn international criticism for alleged human rights abuses in recent years. In June a Saudi court upheld [JURIST report] blogger Raif Badawi’s sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” 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. Last 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.