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Amnesty Int’l condemns increase in executions by Saudi govt in Q1 2021

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The human rights organisation, Amnesty Internation on Tuesday railed against the increase in executions by the Saudi Arabian Government following a drop during its term as G20 president in 2020.

According to the rights group, the Kingdom executed at least 40 people between January and July 2021, more than during the whole of 2020.

Although Saudi Arabia executed a record 185 people in 2019, the state-backed Human Rights Commission said in January that the kingdom had reduced the number of executions by 85 per cent in 2020 compared with the previous year, putting the number for 2020 at 27, a report by Reuters revealed.

Amnesty said executions had resumed immediately after Saudi Arabia handed over the presidency of the Group of 20 rich nations to Italy, with nine people executed in December 2020 alone.

This was contained in a statement issued by Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International who said “the brief respite in repression coinciding with Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the G20 summit in November 2020 indicates that any illusion of reform was simply a PR drive.’’

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According to the rights group, executions took place following convictions in “grossly unfair trials, marred by claims of torture during pre-trial detention leading to forced ‘confessions’ which the prosecution systematically failed to investigate.”

This included the June 2021 execution of a man for offences rights groups say he allegedly committed while under the age of 18, although the kingdom has said it has abolished death sentences for many childhood crimes.

Amnesty also said there had been an increased crackdown on human rights activists and dissidents.

It referred to the cases of 13 activists who were prosecuted, sentenced, or had their sentences ratified after what Amnesty said were grossly unfair trials before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC).

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