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Saudi Arabia Decreases Application of Death Penalty in 2020

Saudi Arabia radically reduced the number of executions in 2020. The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) has documented only 27 executions in 2020, representing a decrease of 85% from 2019.

The sharp decrease was brought about in part by a moratorium on death penalties for drug-related offenses.

The HRC has welcomed this news as a sign that the Kingdom and its justice system are focusing more on rehabilitation and prevention than solely on punishment.

The HRC President Awwad Al-Awwad said that “the moratorium on drug-related offenses means the Kingdom is giving more non-violent criminals a second chance.”

This comes in line with other criminal justice reforms. In 2018, Saudi Arabia banned capital punishment for crimes committed by minors, and in 2020 the Kingdom extended this ban to make it retroactively applicable.

Those sentenced to death for crimes committed while minors, are now being resentenced to a maximum of ten years detainment in a juvenile correction facility.

“In 2018, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman announced that the Kingdom was working on judicial and legal reforms that would result in a decrease of executions, alongside Vision 2030. We are now seeing the fruits of this labor,” Al-Awwad added.

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