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Fri 13 Mar 2015 04:02 AM

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Amnesty slams Saudi Arabia over 2015 executions spike

Human rights group says Gulf kingdom is on track to far surpass its previous annual execution records

Amnesty slams Saudi Arabia over 2015 executions spike

Saudi Arabia is well on track to far surpass its previous annual execution records, Amnesty International has warned.

The human rights group issued a statement after three more men were put to death this week, bringing the total number of executions in the country to 44 so far this year.

That is four times the number of people executed in the Gulf kingdom during the same period last year – 11. Public beheading is the most common method of execution, Amnesty said in the statement.

“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,” said Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“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.”

The three men executed on Wednesday included a Saudi Arabian, a Yemeni and a Syrian national, all for drug-related offences, Amnesty said.

“The fact that around half of the executions carried out so far this year were for drug-related offences contradicts the Saudi Arabian authorities’ claims at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the death penalty is imposed for only the most serious crimes and because it is sanctioned by Shari’a law. In the case of drug-related offences, both of these claims are far from the truth,” said Boumedouha.

He said the head of Saudi Arabia’s delegation made these claims last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, adding that Saudi Arabia only carries out executions after thorough and fair trials.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has regularly been among the world’s top five executioners. In a report due out on April 1, Amnesty International will release statistics on the kingdom’s use of the death penalty in 2014.

Amnesty International said it aopposes 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.

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