SO MUCH FOR REFORM Saudi Arabia executed 184 last year – the highest number in six years – including lad arrested for WhatsApp messages


SAUDI Arabia executed 184 people last year including a young man arrested over WhatsApp messages, shock figures reveal.
The country's government carried out its highest number of executions for six years including three teenage prisoners held in connection with pro-democracy protests.
One of the victims included Abdulkarim al-Hawaj, 21, who was tortured with electricity and beheaded because as a 16-year-old he sent WhatsApp messages about a demonstration.
Abdulkarim and 36 others were executed on a single day in April during a beheading bloodbath for prisoners convicted of "terrorism" offences.
One was crucified and put up in display as a warning to others.
A second youngster was put to death after being arrested as a 17-year-old boarding a flight to the US where he was due to begin his studies at Western Michigan University.
Campaigners say Mujtaba al-Sweikat was convicted solely on the basis of a confession extracted under torture.
Another of those killed was teenager Salman Qureish, who was arrested shortly after his 18th birthday.
Sentencing a person to death who is under 18 is banned under international law.
But executions of the youngsters went ahead despite Saudi Arabia vowing not to put juveniles to death.
One of the victims was gay and put to death after confessing to sex with four other men on trial.


Maya Foa, director of campaign group Reprieve, called on the US and UK to call out the executions in the "strongest possible terms" saying that international pressure "can make a difference".
She said: "According to official Saudi figures, 37 people were executed for 'terrorism' offences in 2019, but a closer look at the charges - 'disobedience against the King,' 'preparing banners with anti-state slogans,' 'incitement via social media' - reveals who these so-called terrorists really are.
"Mujtaba al-Sweikat and Abdulkarim al-Hawaj were arrested after taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations.
"For all the talk of reform, Saudi Arabia is still a country where attending a protest or criticising the regime can get you killed."
The human rights charity insisted that Saudi Arabia puts an end to all human rights abuses ahead of the G20 summit which the country’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, is due to host in Riyadh later this year.
Foa added: "These latest execution figures expose the gap between the reformist rhetoric and bloody reality of Mohammed Bin Salman's Saudi Arabia.
"As the Crown Prince travels the world meeting heads of state, his regime has been executing young men arrested as children for the 'crime' of standing up for democracy.
"With the G20 summit in Riyadh fast approaching, 2020 must be the year that the Kingdom's partners stop falling for the Saudi charm offensive and insist on an end to these egregious human rights abuses and violations of international law."
Reprieve’s figures show that 82 were put to death for drug smuggling and 57 for murder.
The number killed in 2019 is more than double the 88 prisoners put to death in 2014. Of the 184 who died, 88 were Saudis, 90 were foreigners and six of unknown nationality.