Number of Executed in Saudi Arabia in 2016 Dips Slightly from 20-Year High

Saudi Arabia executed 153 people in 2016, a slight reduction over 2015 (158) that marked a 20-year high for the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Though figures for Iran and China are less transparent and not yet available for 2016, both countries appear to have executed significantly more than Saudi Arabia last year. China has been dubbed the “world’s most prolific executioner” having executed over 1,500 in 2015.

Included in the 153 executed last year was Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr, who was executed on January 2, 2016. Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for ‘terrorism’ offenses on a single day last January.

In 2012, following similar resolutions in 2007, 2008, and 2010, the UN General Assembly called on countries to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, progressively restrict the practice, and reduce the offenses for which it might be imposed, all with the view toward its eventual abolition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also called on countries to abolish the death penalty.