Saudi Arabia Has History Of Executions, But One Case May Make History

Saudi Arabia Has History Of Executions, But One Case May Make History
Data shows Saudi Arabia among top countries for number of executions.

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a female protester to death. If her sentence is carried out, it would be historic. Israa al-Ghomgham is thought to be the first female human rights activist in the Kingdom to be given the death penalty. 

Ghomgham has been in prison since 2015. She was a vocal advocate for Shiite Muslim rights in Saudi Arabia. Her charges include anti-government actions. 

International human rights groups are concerned her sentencing could set a precedent for other jailed female activists who also demonstrated peacefully, although they advocated for other issues, like the right to drive.

Executing prisoners, though, isn't uncommon in Saudi Arabia. 

Amnesty International's latest death penalty report — with data as recent as last year — shows Saudi Arabia has the third-highest number of executions in the world. Previous research from the organization says the most common form of execution in the Kingdom is beheading. 

In 2016, Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 47 men who had been convicted of terrorism charges. That's said to be the country's largest since 1980.   

As for Ghomgham, her next hearing will be Oct. 28.  That hearing will decide whether her sentence is upheld.