Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a few areas Saudi laws can be changed to life in prison sentences instead of executions, Human Rights Watch reported on Wednesday, saying that Kingdom executed 48 in 2018.
HRW expressed its concern regarding the death penalties’ scale in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom justice sentenced to death 48 in 2018, half on drug charges. Saudi Arabia has carried out nearly 600 executions since the beginning of 2014, over 200 of them in drug cases, HRW added in its recent report.
In an interview with Time Magazine last month, Saudi Crown Prince noted:
“We are working for two years through the government and also the Saudi parliament to build new laws in that area. And we believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished,”
Mohammed bin Salman told Time Magazine.
Thanks to the reformist crown prince, Saudi Arabia has gone through a series of reforms in the last year. However, an international human rights groups urge the kingdom to make changes to its treatment of human rights advocates, to stop executions and cancel its pervasive system of male guardianship.
Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, governed under a strict form of Islamic law. The government says the death penalty is a deterrent for further crime. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said:
“Any plan to limit drug executions needs to include improvements to a justice system that doesn’t provide for fair trials.”
Mohammed bin Salman suggested Saudi Arabia would consider changing the penalty from death to life in certain cases except for murder. Despite his reformistic direction, a murder is the heaviest crime, which should be punished with death.