Saudi Arabia executed at least 7 prisoners of conscience during 2023

Since the beginning of 2023, the Saudi authorities have executed at least 7 prisoners of conscience without warning or notifying their families. However, the families were informed by the statements of the Ministry of Interior, during which the death sentences were announced. Moreover, the authorities refused to hand over the bodies of the executed victims to their families, and even concealed their burial places.

On 7 March 2023, the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced the execution of the prisoner of conscience Haidar Nasser Al Tahaifa. Haidar Al Tahaifa was arrested in 2017, when he was still a minor (17 years old). All the charges, falsely, pressed against Haidar were committed when he was a minor. Some of the fabricated charges brought against Haidar are killing and assaulting security men. However, the authorities failed to show any evidence to prove the charges against him. 

On 2 May, the Ministry of Interior announced the execution of Minhal Abdullah Al-Rebih. The statement accused Minhal of several fabricated charges, which are usually used against prisoners of conscience, including joining a terrorist cell and shooting at security vehicles. Minhal was arrested from Al-Waha School in Al-Awamiyah in 2017 (his and his family’s place of residence) over his participation in the peaceful popular marches in Qatif in 2011. His arrest falls under the category of arbitrary detention, as he was presented without an arrest warrant or legal justification.

The third case refers to the prisoner of conscience Anwar Jaafar Al-Alawi, who was executed  on 9 May 2023. The Ministry of Interior declared that Anwar’s charges include joining other wanted individuals in shooting at a police station, and providing assistance to a security wanted person by covering him up. The Ministry of Interior did not specify which police station was targeted, who were involved in the crime, or even the date of the alleged assault. Keeping these details hidden reinforces the hypothesis that they are all baseless, and that they are pure allegations, but that the execution took place only on a political background.

On 22 May 2023, the Saudi authorities committed a new crime, announcing the execution of 3 prisoners of conscience, Hassan Al-Muhanna, Haidar Mois, and Mohammad Mois, after fabricating charges against them, including joining a camp outside the Kingdom in service of a terrorist organization. The three young men were arrested during 2013 and subjected to various types of violations, including torture, and deprivation of the basic necessities of life. 

On 23 May 2023, the execution of prisoner of conscience Ahmad Ali Al-Bader was announced, after he had been arrested in 2016. The statement of the Ministry of Interior accused Ahmad of several fabricated charges including: communicating with an enemy country, and leaving the kingdom illegally. As usual, the details of these charges were not specified, such as naming the enemy country or specifying the date of the illegal exit.

The murder committed by the Saudi authorities against the young men confirms their continued use of the death penalty, despite all international demands, especially the recent ones issued by the Human Rights Council. The last five executions raise double concern, as no human rights body was able to record their cases before announcing the execution, meaning that the real numbers of those threatened with execution are many times greater than those monitored by human rights organizations.