Recently, in the country of Saudi Arabia in Southwest Asia, 81 Men were beheaded in a mass execution on March 12th. Most of the men were charged with Terrorism-Related Offences for participating in pro-Shiite Muslim protests in the country during 2011 and 2012. The protesters asked for greater political participation from the Saudi Government, however, most were denied and almost immediately arrested by both Islamic religious police and Saudi police/government forces.
Seven of the men from the protests who were beheaded were Yemeni, and one of the beheaded was a Syrian Government National. The beheadings alone exceeded the over 67 executions that took place (in total) during the year of 2021 in Saudi Arabia, with the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachlet commenting that “Our monitoring indicates that some of those executed were sentenced to death following trials that did not meet fair trial and due process guarantees, and for crimes that did not appear to meet the most serious crimes threshold, as required under international law” (United Nations News/news.un.org).
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salaman speaking on the executions on Saturday (Saudi Press Agency/New York Times/Via Reuters)
“Implementing death sentences following trials that do not provide the required ‘fair trial guarantees’ is prohibited by international human rights and may amount to a war crime,” UN Rights Chief Bachelet added. Despite a modern global discouragement and move away from the death penalty, Saudi Arabia is among 38 countries that still continue to use and implement the death penalty. The UN is also worried that the executions were connected to the Saudi Arabian armed conflict going on in Yemen at the current moment between pro and anti-Yemeni government forces, with pro-government forces being supported by Saudi Arabia against the “Houthis”. The High Commissioner also stated that “Authorities should return the bodies of the executed to their families”.