The death penalty in Saudi Arabia: Facts and Figures

Saudi Arabia remains one of the most prolific executioners in the world.

It is among the top three executioners worldwide, surpassed only by China and Iran, in Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report.

At least 2,208 people executed between January 1985 and June 2015.

102 people executed between January and June 2015.

90 people executed in whole of 2014.

48.5% of people executed between January 1985 and June 2015 - 1,072 people - were foreign nationals, who make up around 33% of Saudi Arabia’s population of approximately 30 million.
Executions for drug related offences rose from just 4% in 2010 and 2011 to 28% in 2012 and 32% in 2013. By 2014 and June 2015 the percentage had risen to 47%.

This means almost half of executions in 2014 and until June 2015 are for non-lethal crimes.

Beheadings are the most common execution method in Saudi Arabia, but some executions also carried out by firing squad.

Public executions typically take place in the public square of a town or city.

The death penalty in Saudi Arabia is used in violation of international human rights law and standards. Trials in capital cases are often held in secret and defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers.

People may be convicted solely on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture, other ill-treatment or deception.

Non-lethal crimes including “adultery”, armed robbery, “apostasy”, drug-related offences, rape, “witchcraft” and “sorcery” are punishable by death.

The majority of executions for non-lethal crimes in Saudi Arabia are for drug related offences which are not mandatorily punishable by death according to the authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Shari’a law.

Alleged juvenile offenders are executed in blatant violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In some cases, the relatives of those on death row are not notified of the executions in advance and in other cases, they are not returned the body.

People with mental disabilities are also not spared the death sentence.