Today, Amnesty International has published its latest report Death Sentences and Executions: 2018. This document has reconfirmed our research findings concerning death penalty trends in the Gulf Countries. Global executions have significantly fallen by 31% in 2018. This result shows that the death penalty is in consistent decline. However, this astounding achievement does not alleviate concerns over the situation in the Gulf Countries.
All the Gulf Countries retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes. No executions were recorded in 2018 in Jordan, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), whereas Kuwait and UAE have doubled the issuance of death sentences, from 15 to 34 and from 5 to at least 10 respectively. In Yemen, 4 executions have been carried out and over 28 people have been sentenced to death in 2018. The government of Qatar has stated that no executions were carried out and no death sentences were imposed in 2018.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the world’s top executioners, after China and Iran. Executions in Iran fell by 50%, whereas the number of executions in Saudi Arabia has dramatically increased in the recent years. This trend coincides with the ascension of King Salman to the throne. Amnesty International has recorded 149 executions in 2018, including 2 women and 147 men. Half of those executed were foreign nationals. More than 50 people who were executed were convicted for non-violent drug offences, others for the crime of rape and “treason”. Most of the executions have been carried out by beheading, sometimes in public, in extreme cases convicts have faced crucifixion, which is sanctioned by Islamic law.
According to the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, by tallying media reports of executions we estimate that at least 11 executions have been carried out as of January 2019. According to Thisisinsider, as of March 2019, 43 people have been executed by beheading or crucifying. Furthermore, it has been reported that many death sentences were imposed without meeting international fair trial standards, and that forced confessions have been extorted to sentence people to death. The same has occurred in Bahrain.
In Bahrain, no executions have been performed in 2018. Bahrain has maintained a de facto moratorium from 2011 to 2017. In 2017, 3 people have been executed. As of February 2019, 19 individuals are on death row in Bahrain and 7 individuals are at imminent risk of execution. Commutations and pardons of death sentences have been recorded in Bahrain. Nevertheless, 19 individuals are on death row and 7 others are at imminent risk of execution.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) is pleased to acknowledge that executions have drastically fallen on a global scale. However, we reiterate our concerns over the persistent use of death penalty as a tool to crush dissent in the Gulf Region, especially in Saudi Arabia. We call all of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula to put in place the adequate reforms to abolish death penalty.