24 MAY 2023 – On the signature of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia executed between 22 and 23 May 2023 four young men from Al Qatif, three on Monday 22 May and one on Tuesday 23 May for exercising their freedom of expression. Hassan Issa al Muhanna, Haidar Hassan Mowes, Mohammed Ibrahim Mowes , and Ahmed bin Ali bin Mutoq Al Badr , were subjected to excruciating acts of torture in order to coerce confessions. They were convicted on charges that would ordinarily not be considered death-eligible under international law, including training in the use of weapons, intent to smuggle, and association with a terrorist organization. This latest execution brings the total number of persons killed to 36 this year alone.
Hassan AlMahanna and Haidar Al-Muwees were both arrested in 2013 and were brutally tortured, physically and mentally, until they were forced to sign a confession. They were executed without notice. Similarly, Mohamed Al-Muwees: was arrested by Saudi security forces, after they set a trap and was sentenced to death but was later replaced. However, he was then executed on terrorism charges. Ahmed Al Badr was also executed on terrorism charges after he was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His sentence was replaced with the death sentence.
The move comes as the latest in a long string of executions dating back to last year. Prior to these executions, Saudi Arabia had promised to end the execution of children and persons who were convicted for offenses they allegedly committed as minors, and had also placed a moratorium on executions for the death penalty – a practice which disproportionately affects immigrant men, who often perform services as drug mules for criminal organizations led by Saudi citizens.
Executions in the Kingdom cannot occur without permission from the King or, in his absence, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – known internationally by his acronym, MbS. The Crown Prince has been leading the country for over half a decade on behalf of his ailing father, King Salman al-Saud.
MbS was cast out by the international community in the wake of his alleged involvement in the murder of the Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. President Biden went as far as to pledge to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” during his campaign. Yet after the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Western Europe and the United States allowed Mohammed bin Salman back onto the world stage. MbS responded by immediately executing 81 people, going on to murder a further 115 over the course of the remaining year – and even re-sentencing another child to death.
“This latest mass execution leaves no doubt, if any remains at all – this is MbS’s Saudi Arabia,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “Far from the promises of reform designed to draw in international investment, or the bright and shiny mirror cities that make up his fever dreams, the Crown Prince’s vision for his Kingdom is far more brutal. His Saudi Arabia kills old men for confessing to smuggling drugs under excruciating acts of torture. His Saudi Arabia murders journalists that he personally doesn’t like. His Saudi Arabia executes children by firing squad.”
ADHRB condemns the death penalty in all forms, as well as the recent monumental increase in the number of executions taking place in Saudi Arabia. We call on the Government of Saudi Arabia to place a general moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards eventual abolition, in line with its commitments under the Convention against Torture and evolving international law.