‘Killing in the name of justice’: The death penalty in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia remains one of the most prolific executioners in the world. Between January 1985, the earliest year from when information on executions is available, and June 2015 it executed at least 2,200 persons, almost half of whom were foreign nationals. Over one third of these executions were carried out for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law. Most of these crimes, such as drug-related offences, are not mandatorily punishable by death according to the authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Shari’a law.

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