RIYADH (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia executed 184 people in 2019, the most in a calendar year in six years, human rights organization Reprieve reported, calling it a "grim milestone” for the kingdom.
Of the executions announced by the Saudi Press Agency last year, 88 were Saudi nationals, 90 were foreign nationals and six people were of unknown nationality, a statement released by Reprieve said, Al Jazeera reported.
The group stated that 37 people were executed by the Saudi regime on a single day on April 23, including three who were children when they had committed their alleged offences.
"This is another grim milestone for Mohammad bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s rulers clearly believe they have total impunity to flout international law when it suits them,” noted the rights group’s director, Maya Foa.
Reprieve’s statement added that the Saudi crown prince, also known as MbS, had stated in a televised interview in 2018, "We have tried to minimize [the death penalty] ... And we believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished ... We will not get it 100 percent, but to reduce it big time.”
However, Reprieve announced that the number of executions continues to rise under his rule, with four executions already reported this year.
While the oil-rich kingdom embarked upon a liberalisation drive, it has faced criticism over multiple human rights issues, including arrests of critics, restrictions on women, and the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
"Saudi Arabia’s rulers clearly believe they have impunity to flout international law, and it is time the kingdom’s partners told them otherwise in the strongest possible terms,” Foa told Al-Jazeera.
The statement by Reprieve quoted Foa as saying, "A country that tortures and executes children should be a pariah state, not preparing to host the next meeting of the G20.”
Saudi Arabia took over the rotating G20 (Group of 20) presidency from Japan last year, becoming the first Arab nation to have the prestigious role of hosting the summit of the world’s largest industrialized and developing economies.
Three prominent international NGOs have boycotted meetings that Saudi Arabia is holding with civil society groups ahead of the annual Group of Twenty (G20) Summit, saying the Riyadh regime is trying to "whitewash its dire human rights record” by hosting such events.