RIYADH (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia has executed 48 people so far in 2018, half of them for nonviolent drug crimes.
Others convicted of drug crimes remain on death row, the rights group reported on Wednesday.
In an interview with Time Magazine last month, reformist Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a few areas Saudi laws can be changed to life in prison sentences instead of executions.
“We are working for two years through the government and also the Saudi parliament to build new laws in that area. And we believe it will take one year, maybe a little bit more, to have it finished,” he told Time Magazine.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said: “Any plan to limit drug executions needs to include improvements to a justice system that doesn’t provide for fair trials.”
Saudi Arabia has gone through a series of reforms in the last year, but international human rights groups urge the kingdom to make changes to its treatment of human rights advocates, to stop executions and cancel its pervasive system of male guardianship.
Saudi Arabia has carried out nearly 600 executions since the beginning of 2014, over 200 of them in drug cases, HRW said.
Reporting by Sarah Dadouch, editing by Larry King