(Photo Credit: AP)
On 1 November, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) disclosed that Saudi courts had sentenced 15 prisoners to death, raising the number of people at risk for the death penalty to 53, among them six minors.
The following ruling comes during a period when the UN has been calling on the Saudi authorities to revoke the death penalty, and for the immediate release of Abdullah al-Hwaiti.
According to Human Rights Watch, Hwaiti was detained by the Saudi authorities in 2017 at the age of 14, and received a death sentence in 2019.
Human rights activists claim al-Hwaiti was falsely accused of robbery and the murder of a policeman in the town of Duba, with CCTV footage proving that he was not at the scene of the crime; however, he was tortured into providing a false confession.
In September, ESOHR claimed that Riyadh was on the verge of executing 34 people.
ESOHR expressed its concerns over the mass executions of political prisoners under Saudi authorities, stressing that the Saudi government has put at least 120 people to death between January and May.
According to a report released by ESOHR, during the first half of 2022, the number of executions admitted by Saudi authorities is higher than that of 2020 and 2021 combined. The kingdom is on its way to surpassing the record of 186 executions set in 2019.
Most of the executions carried out this year took place on 12 March, when Saudi officials killed 81 detainees on charges of “terrorism-related activities.”
Rights groups later revealed that 41 of those executed that day came from Qatif, a region populated by the kingdom’s Shia Muslim minority. Among the dead were also seven Yemenis and one Syrian.
At the time, Riyadh claimed the executions were carried out on convicts who held “deviant beliefs, pledging allegiance to foreign organizations.”
In the view of the Saudi authorities, the term ‘deviant beliefs’ constitutes anything that does not conform to the Wahhabi doctrine.