Executions in Saudi Arabia increase

The Organisation Amnesty International reports that Saudi Arabia has executed at least 151 people this year, the most since 1995 and far above recent annual figure which rarely exceeded 90. Diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing more cases to be heard.

No one at Saudi Arabia’s justice ministry was immediately available to comment on the surge in the numbers of executions. Political analysts say it might also reflect a tough response to wars and political turbulence in the region, writes the Guardian.

Saudi is in the top five countries for executing people, rights groups say. It ranked No 3 in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International.

The same five countries executed the most prisoners in the first six months of 2015, Amnesty said in July.

Of the 63 people executed this year for drug-related charges, 45 were foreigners. The total number of foreigners executed so far this year is 71. Foreigners, mostly guest workers from poor countries, are particularly vulnerable as they typically do not know Arabic and are denied adequate translation in court, Amnesty said.

Saudi Arabia says it provides fair trials for all defendants.