Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 81 people in a single day on March 12, 2022. It is the largest known mass execution in the West Asian country’s modern period. The Saudi authorities have claimed that these people were executed for their association with various anti-terrorist organisations, and involvement in conspiracy against the government. Surprisingly, there was no strong reaction in the international arena, although so many people were executed at once. The International Bar Association‘s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) strongly condemned the mass execution, but the West chose to remain silent.
It may be noted that the Saudi Authorities carried out mass executions in the past, too. While 37 people were sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia in 2019, 47 were executed in 2016. Most importantly, a large proportion of those sentenced to death were Shiites, and their bodies were not handed over to their families. It may also be noted that 40 of those 81 executed in March 2022 were Shiites.
Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have raised questions about the relevance of the death penalty in the 21st Century. However, the Western Media and the Civil Society have ignored the incident. Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has condemned the execution of 81 people in one day, saying that many of them have not been brought to justice. She also said that they did not commit the heinous crime that could be punishable by death under International Law.
Although Saudi Arabia follows Sharia (Islamic Law), Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (also the country’s Defence Minister) has claimed that he recently created a Liberal Atmosphere in his country. Prince Salman has also claimed that women have started enjoying their Basic Rights. He, himself, has often called for legal reform, and initiated the reform of the Criminal Justice System. In Saudi Arabia, judicial reform has been effective since 2021. Meanwhile, the execution of 81 people at once has tarnished the image of the Middle Eastern country. The spectre of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi has started haunting Riyadh, yet again. As expected, the Saudi Administration has claimed that it ensured a fair trial for each and every accused. However, the Human Rights organisations have rubbished the claim, stating that the Police brutally beat the accused and forced them to make false confessions after taking them in custody. Later, those were used against them.
It is quite difficult to reveal the actual facts. However, the mass execution has raised questions about the acceptability of the capital punishment. Nowadays, the Global Community gives more emphasis on correction than on punishment. That is why prisons are being called reformatories. However, the offender gets no chance to correct her/himself in the case of death penalty. The Human Rights activists are of the opinion the State has no right to execute its citizens. Furthermore, in case of any error in the judicial process or finding new evidence against the offender, death penalty does not allow the accused to get fair justice. Most importantly, capital punishment has failed to reduce the crime rate in many countries.
These arguments against the death penalty are very common, and the issue is also an old one. As the issue has become increasingly important in the 21st Century, a number of countries have abolished Capital Punishment. The execution of 81 people at once, no matter where it takes place, hurts the concept of Justice and Humanity everywhere.
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