According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia increased its number of executions in the first half of 2021 after a reduction during its term as G20 president in 2020, Reuters reported.
According to the rights group, between January and July 2021, the Kingdom executed at least 40 people, which is more than it did the previous year.
Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia executed a record 185 people in 2019, the state-backed Human Rights Commission announced in January that the country has dropped the number of executions by 85% in 2020 compared to the previous year, bringing the total to 27.
According to Amnesty International, executions resumed immediately after Saudi Arabia was handed the G20 presidency, with nine people executed in December 2020 alone.
“The brief respite in repression coinciding with Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the G20 summit last November indicates that any illusion of reform was simply a PR drive,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
Executions took place following convictions in “grossly unfair trials, marred by claims of torture during pre-trial detention leading to forced ‘confessions’ which the prosecution systematically failed to investigate,” according to the rights groups.
This included the execution of a man in June 2021 for allegedly committing crimes while under the age of 18, despite the Kingdom claiming to have eliminated death sentences for many childhood crimes.
Amnesty International also stated in the report that human rights advocates and dissidents have been subjected to heightened repression. It was about 13 activists who were prosecuted, condemned, or had their sentences affirmed after what Amnesty called grossly unjust trials before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC).
According to Amnesty, at least 39 people are imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for their activism, human rights work, or expression of opposition.