Saudi Arabia: NPWJ strongly condemns the mass application of death penalty

14 Mar, 2022 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 14 March 2022

On Saturday 11 March, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, in the largest known mass application of capital punishment carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) condemns in the strongest terms this brutal display and worrying increase in the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, pointing out how this bleak picture fits into a wider context of continued human rights violations and an endless misuse of the justice system aimed at silencing any form of dissent that has escalated since Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman came to power in June 2017.

Saudi authorities persistently persecute peaceful activists by labelling them as terrorists or agitators and using anti-terror and security laws against them. Suspects are often beaten and tortured to extract confessions; they are denied access to legal support and family visits; they are exposed to corporal punishment; and remain in excessively protracted pre-trial detention, with any pleas for fair investigation of these abuses falling on the deaf ears of judicial authorities. This pattern of ongoing rife violations demonstrates that the Saudi regime’s ambitious claims of reform are pure rhetoric and part of a smokescreen strategy used to cover its real and truly undemocratic and repressive face.

The mass executions on Saturday were announced a day after the release of Saudi blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi, who had been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years’ prison on charges related to the peaceful and legitimate expression of his opinions about human rights online. While NPWJ welcomes Raif’s release, we call on the Saudi authorities to lift the ten-year forced travel ban currently imposed on him, and immediately and unconditionally allow him to join his family in Canada. 

NPWJ also calls for the release of all activists, journalists and human rights defenders arbitrarily imprisoned, whose only “crime” is to advocate openly and peacefully for meaningful democratic reforms and the respect of human rights in their country. The international community should also take immediate concrete steps to ensure that the Saudi regime abides by its obligations under international human rights laws and stops imposing strict and harsh censorship measures which impede the democratic expression of the aspirations of its people.

For further information, please contact Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, email: