Rights groups put the number of those killed by Riyadh this year at 107 with Amnesty International calling the surge a 'bloody execution spree'.

Saudi Arabia is on course to execute more people this year than any other year this decade, according to rights groups.

The European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) says that Riyadh has carried out 107 death sentences already in 2019, putting it on course to surpass its decade high of 158 confirmed executions in 2015.

This year’s figure is set to rise amid reports that the country is preparing to execute several Islamic scholars, including Salman al Odah, Awad al Qarni, and Ali al Omari.

The numbers for this year, like years before, include opposition figures, as well as people convicted of crimes, such as drug trafficking, murder, and armed robbery.

Rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have repeatedly condemned Riyadh over its use of capital punishment, and the method of executions used, which can include beheading followed by crucifixion

However, the number of executions has risen in the latter half of the present decade, with figures regularly hitting three digits.

2019

ESOHR says 107 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia so far in 2019 with Amnesty putting the number at 104.

Most notably, 37 people - mostly from the country’s Shia minority -  were executed in one go in April. They included at least one person who was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offense.

Abdulkareem al Hawaj was arrested over his alleged involvement in anti-government protests at the age of just 16.

Under international law, it is illegal to execute anybody who was under the age of 18 when an offense is alleged to have taken place.

Amnesty called the killings a “bloody execution spree”.

2018

Riyadh executed 149 people in 2018. They included Indonesian national Tuti Tursilawati, who was convicted of killing her employer in 2011 in what she said was self defence after experiencing sexual abuse.

The Indonesian government was not informed of her execution beforehand.

2017

In 2017, Saudi Arabia executed 146 people, according to Amnesty. Rights groups claimed that the corpses of a Yemeni gang executed for murder and robbery were dangled from a helicopter as a warning to other criminals.

2016

Saudi authorities executed at least 154 people in 2016, including 47 people in one day, the largest mass execution in the country since the 1980s.

Among the 47 killed was Shia Muslim scholar, Nimr al Nimr, on terrorism offences, a charge rejected by his family.

Nimr’s nephew, Ali al Nimr, who was just 17 at the time of his arrest, is also facing the death penalty.

2015

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed at least 158 people, making it the highest number of executions so far this decade.

The number was a dramatic increase on the 90 confirmed executions the country carried out the previous year.

To keep up with the increased rate of executions, Riyadh advertised for eight new executioner positions in its civil service.

2014

The number of people executed in 2014 was at least 90. Among those killed were Hajras al Qurey and his son Muhammad, who were arrested and charged with drug trafficking in 2012 after crossing the border into Saudi Arabia from Yemen.

Both men claimed to have been tortured during their custody and refused legal reprentation.

2019 is on course to be the worst year for executions in Saudi Arabia this year
2019 is on course to be the worst year for executions in Saudi Arabia this year (Reuters)

2013

At least 79 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2013, including five Yemeni men who were beheaded and crucified in the city of Jizan.

2012

At least 79 were also executed by Saudi Arabia in 2012. They included a man who sentenced to death for ‘witchcraft’.

Musa al Asiri was killed in Najran after being found with books and amulets.

2011

There were also executions for witchcraft and sorcery in 2011. A Saudi woman and a Sudanese man were executed in separate cases.

A total of 82 executions took place that year.

2010

Riyadh executed 27 people in 2010.

Source: TRT World