'Saudi Arabia executed 122 people in the first six months of 2019 making it the bloodiest start to a year in the Arab kingdom since 2014, a new report claims.
Among the dead were six people arrested as minors, three women, and 51 facing drug charges that would be considered minor offences elsewhere in the world.
The total is more than double the same period last year - when 55 people were put to death - and undercuts Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's pledge to reduce the use of the death penalty.
The figures were released by activist group the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, which said they 'raise serious concerns about the extent to which the Saudi government will expand capital punishment this year.'
Saudi Arabia executed 41 people in the first half of 2017, 88 during the same period in 2016, and 103 for the first six months of 2015.
If the same trend were repeated in the second half of the year, 2019 would be the busiest year on record for Saudi executioners.
The group said it is aware of at least 23 pending cases for which the death penalty is possible, including at least three children.
It is not clear if those cases involve defendants who are still children, or were minors when they were arrested.
In just one day this year - April 23 - Saudi Arabia executed 37 people, mostly accused of political crimes for their part in the Arab Spring protests of 2011 and 2012.
At least one of the bodies was crucified and put on display after the execution.
Court documents obtained by CNN showed that many of those recanted earlier confessions when brought before the judge, saying they were written by guards or under torture.
Some even claimed to have evidence of abuse they suffered during years of incarceration, but all appeals were rejected.'
Read more: Executions 'DOUBLE in Saudi Arabia in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2018' despite Mohammed bin Salman's pledge to crack down on capital punishment
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4 October 2019
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