They executed 81 men on Saturday – more than during the whole of last year.
The group – including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national – were convicted of “multiple heinous crimes”, including terrorism, state news agency SPA said. i
Some were charged with belonging to the Islamic State group (IS), al-Qaeda or the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Rights organisations say many do not receive fair trials in Saudi Arabia, an allegation the government rejects.
According to SPA, the latest group had been tried by 13 judges and gone through a three-stage judicial process.
They were accused of plotting attacks on vital economic targets, killing or targeting members of the security forces, kidnapping, torturing, raping and smuggling weapons into the country.
They have one of the highest execution rates in the world – fifth in a list compiled by Amnesty International, the other four being China, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.
It executed 69 people last year.
Recent changes to death penalty sentences
A Royal Order issued in 2020 announced an end to the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime, and only in discretionary cases not involving the counter-terror law. It did not specify if the announcement extended to minors sentenced for hadd crimes (those with fixed and severe punishments under Shari’a) or crimes punishable by qisas (retaliation). The Royal Order falls short of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In early 2021, the Saudi Arabian authorities announced changes to the death penalty, including a moratorium on executions for drug-related crimes, which are death sentences handed down at the judge’s discretion rather than mandated under Sharia law. While this moratorium appears to have been implemented, it has yet to be formalized. It remains unofficial as long as existing narcotics laws carry the death penalty and individuals previously sentenced for drug-related crimes remain on death row.