44 executed so far this year, four times higher than this time in 2014
Three executions in Saudi Arabia earlier today have added to an “unprecedented” spike in executions in the kingdom, Amnesty International has warned.
The three judicial killings bring the total number of executions in the country to 44 so far this year, fully four times the number of people - 11 - executed in the Gulf kingdom during the same period last year.
Last week the head of Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva claimed that the death penalty is imposed for only the most serious crimes, adding that Saudi Arabia only carries out executions after thorough and fair trials.
However, as with many of the executions this year and in previous years, the three men executed this morning - a Saudi Arabian, a Yemeni and a Syrian national - were all put to death for drug-related offences.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court recently announced that proof beyond reasonable doubt of a suspect’s guilt is not needed in order for a court to hand down a sentence, including a death sentence, if the crime is not punishable under Qisas (retribution) or Hadd (divinely sanctioned punishments in Shari’a).
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has regularly been among the world’s top five executioners, with public beheading the most common method of execution. In a report due out on 1 April, Amnesty will release statistics on the Kingdom’s use of the death penalty in 2014.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha said:
“This unprecedented spike in executions constitutes a chilling race to the bottom for a country that is already among the most prolific executioners on the planet.
“If this alarming execution rate continues, Saudi Arabia is well on track to surpass its previous records, putting it out of step with the vast majority of countries around the world that have now rejected the death penalty in law or practice.”
As of 31 December 2014, 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; the guilt or innocence of the individual; or the method of execution.