Saudi Arabia Caught Backtracking On Death Penalty Pledge

( Saudi Arabia is being accused of using the World Cup as a distraction as it backtracks on a pledge to not use the death penalty for nonviolent offenders, according to The Daily Mail. The country has reportedly beheaded 12 people in the last 14 days.

Despite issuing a moratorium on using the death penalty for nonviolent crimes in 2021, there has been a sudden spur of executions for drug offenses. As the executions continue to roll out, the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, attended the World Cup opening ceremony last week. He has been pictured sitting next to Fifa boss Gianni Infantino.

Executions are reportedly up to 138 this year, more than those in 2021 and 2020 combined. Human Rights charity Reprieve has brought forward the case of a taxi driver, Hussein, a father of eight, who was unjustly imprisoned after Saudi police allegedly planted amphetamines hidden in his fuel tank when he was stopped at a border checkpoint. He was then tortured and forced to confess, where he has been awaiting his execution since 2014.

Hussein would be the 13th beheading this year, following three Pakistani men, four Syrians, two Jordanians, and three Saudis. Reprieve Director Maya Foa says that these human rights abuses are being carried out as the world’s attention is on football.

“Saudi Arabia executed more people than ever before in the first six months of this year, and has now begun executing drug offenders, in large numbers and in secret, as the world focuses on its neighbor,” Foa said referring to the neighboring country Qatar. She also urged the Kingdom’s international partners to act in order to save innocent men like Hussein and “stop the bloodshed.”

Executions are not the only policy the prince has backtracked on. While Salman has reportedly loosened restrictions for women in the country, allowing them to join the military, he has also reportedly pulled the strings to send women’s rights activists to prison.