Saudi Arabia executes 17 people in 12 days, using World Cup as cover
The toll of executions has reached 144 this year.
According to a UN official on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia has been accused of using the World Cup as a diversion after it beheaded 17 people in the last 12 days, despite the nation's leaders vowing not to use the death penalty.
At a press conference in Geneva, UN human rights office spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell described the death penalty as "deeply regrettable", according to the Independent.
Saudi Arabia uses beheading as the primary method of execution. The 144 beheadings in 2022 surpass the total number of executions in the previous two years combined.
In the meantime, as the executions were held, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sat next to Gianni Infantino at the World Cup opening ceremony on Sunday.
The human rights organization Reprieve brought attention to the case of a taxi driver who is about to be executed in a Saudi prison and whose sister last year requested assistance from former England player Alan Shearer.
Following the Saudi takeover of his former team, Newcastle United, Zeinab Abo Al-Kheir wrote to the TV pundit and asked him to "listen to the evidence about human rights abuses" in the desert nation. The Islamic country halted executions for two years during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her brother, father-of-eight Hussein, was sentenced to death allegedly after amphetamine pills were found hidden in his fuel tank at a border checkpoint. However, activists contend that he confessed while being tortured and that the drugs were hidden in his car while it was parked outside of his Jordanian home.
Director of Reprieve Maya Foa charged Saudi Arabia with carrying out the beheadings while the entire world was watching the World Cup in Doha. "While Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was putting himself center stage at the World Cup opening ceremony, seated next to Fifa supremo Gianni Infantino, taxi driver Hussein Abo al-Kheir was cowering in a cell, terrified that the executioner will take him next."
'While all eyes are on the football, Saudi Arabia is carrying out a horrifying execution spree, killing people like Hussein, an innocent man who was tortured by Saudi police to 'confess'."
"Qatar has rightly been criticized for its human rights record but its abuses pale in comparison to the Gulf megastate next door."
"Saudi Arabia executed more people than ever before in the first six months of this year and has now begun executing drug offenders, in large numbers and in secret, as the world focuses on its neighbor."
Hussein's execution, if carried out, would mark the thirteenth beheading after those of three Pakistani men, four Syrians, two Jordanians, and three Saudis.
The 144 death toll includes 81 people who were executed in a single day in March; many of them were political prisoners detained during crackdowns on protests in the Eastern Province.
Even though MBS promised to "minimize" the use of the death penalty, to only those found guilty of murder or manslaughter.
Foa added, "As a bloody year of executions draws to a close, the Saudi authorities have begun executing drug offenders again, in large numbers and in secret."