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As local and international media celebrated the opening of Saudi Arabia’s first ever cinema, the Kingdom carried out the 47th execution of 2018 by beheading.
On April 18 2018, the Saudi government opened the country’s first cinema in 30 years at the King Abdullah Financial Centre in the capital, Riyadh. The Minister of Culture and Information along with a number of officials and diplomats attended the launch.
In reality, the Saudi government is using this to cover up an escalation of violations, as the executioner’s sword continues beheading citizens and foreign nationals for varying offences.
Nearly 50% of persons executed this year have been for drug offences, in violation of international law which prohibits the use of the death penalty for offences that do not result in premeditated murder.
According to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights’ statistics, executions in the first quarter of 2018, increased by 72% compared to the first quarter of 2017. A number of foreign nationals also face execution.
Although the Saudi government does not disclose official statistics of individuals on death row, ESOHR’s statistics confirm that 42 people are facing imminent execution, including 8 persons who were children at the time of the offence , and detainees who were sentenced to death for offences that do not cross the most serious crimes threshold required by international law, including attending demonstrations, exercising freedom of expression and opinion, as well as the exercise of religious rites relating to the Shi’a monitory.
Executions are carried out once the King or anyone he delegates has issued an execution decree, as required by Saudi law.