The number of death sentences in Saudi Arabia has risen again after the country relinquished its G20 presidency, according to Amnesty International.
Between January and July this year, 40 people were executed in the kingdom, according to a report published by the organization on Tuesday. That is more than in the entire previous year.
In 2020 - during the period of the Saudi G20 presidency - a total of 27 people had been executed. In December alone, nine people were executed; Saudi Arabia had relinquished the presidency on 1 December.
"As soon as the G20 spotlight on Saudi Arabia faded the authorities resumed their ruthless pursuit of people who dare to express their opinions freely or criticize the government," said the organization's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Lynn Maalouf.
Several people have been sentenced to imprisonment and sometimes death on the basis of "a grossly unfair trial," she said. According to Amnesty, "confessions" are forced through torture.
In the first half of the year, people were also sentenced to many years in prison for satirical internet posts and human rights activism, among other things.
After prison, many of them expected travel bans, among other things. Such a ban was also imposed on the famous women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. She had been given a suspended sentence of three years for her advocacy to end the ban on women driving.
"The brief respite in repression coinciding with Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the G20 summit last November indicates that any illusion of reform was simply a PR drive," Maalouf said.
At least 39 people are reportedly still in Saudi prisons for their human rights work or freedom of expression.
The kingdom is one of the countries with the highest number of executions worldwide.
According to Amnesty's research, 184 people were executed in 2019, some of them in public.