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Amnesty International: Saudi Arabia had record number of executions last year

Amnesty International: Saudi Arabia had record number of executions last year
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Saudi authorities executed a record number of people last year, according to an Amnesty International report on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

A lengthy report released by the international rights group indicated that 184 people were put to death for various crimes in the kingdom last year, the highest ever recorded in one year in that country.

That figure is up from 149 just a year earlier. The total reportedly includes six women and 178 men. It also reportedly includes figures gathered from a mass execution of Shia men labeled as terrorists by Saudi officials on April 23 of last year.

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“The death penalty is an abhorrent and inhuman punishment; and there is no credible evidence that it deters crime more than prisons terms. A large majority of countries recognize this and it’s encouraging to see that executions continue to fall worldwide,” Clare Algar, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, Advocacy and Policy, said in a statement accompanying the release.

“However, a small number of countries defied the global trend away from the death penalty by increasingly resorting to executions. Saudi Arabia’s growing use of the death penalty, including as a weapon against political dissidents, is an alarming development. Also shocking was the massive jump in executions in Iraq, which nearly doubled in just one year," she added.

Iraq's total number killed under the death penalty jumped from at least 52 in 2018 to at least 100 last year. Most of those killed were former Islamic State members, according to Amnesty.

Iran now sits second to China in the most prolific use of the death penalty. Chinese authorities put to death at least 253 people in 2019, up from 251 in 2018, according to Amnesty.