DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered an end to the death penalty for crimes committed by minors, according to a statement Sunday by a top official.
The decision comes on the heels of another ordering judges to end the practice of flogging, replacing it with jail time, fines, or community service and bringing one of the kingdom’s most controversial forms of public punishment to a close.
King Salman’s son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is seen as the force behind the kingdom’s loosening of restrictions and its pivot away from ultraconservative interpretations of Islamic law known as Wahhabism, which many people in the country still closely adhere to.
The crown prince has sought to modernize the country, attract foreign investment, and revamp Saudi Arabia’s reputation globally. He’s also overseen a parallel crackdown on liberals, women’s rights activists, writers, moderate clerics and reformers. The 2018 killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey by agents who worked for the crown prince drew sharp criticism internationally.