Amnesty International warned on Friday that a surge in executions carried out by Saudi authorities could see more than 100 people put to death in the first six months of 2016, AFP reported.
The London-based watchdog said that the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.
This year, at least 94 people have been executed so far, “higher than at the same point last year,” Amnesty said.
If executions continue at the same pace, the group warned, “Saudi Arabia will have put to death more than 100 people in the first six months of this year.”
“Executions in Saudi Arabia have been surging dramatically for two years now and this appalling trend shows no sign of slowing,” said Amnesty’s James Lynch, according to AFP.
Lynch spoke of “pervasive flaws” in the kingdom’s justice system “which mean that it is entirely routine for people to be sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials.”
Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” on a single day in January, including Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose execution sparked a diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Following that spate of executions, Saudi Arabia insisted all 47 had been granted fair trials.
Nimr’s death sentence based on “confessions he says were extracted through torture provides a glaring example of the arbitrary use of the death penalty after proceedings that blatantly flout international human rights standards,” said Amnesty on Friday.
Lynch urged Saudi authorities to “quash his conviction and order a re-trial immediately in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty.”
Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.
Yet despite its violation of human rights, Saudi Arabia holds a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.
Saudi Arabia's envoy to the UNHRC was last September selected to head an influential panel on human rights, despite Riyadh's own poor track record for human rights issues.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)