Saudi Arabia has reportedly taken its number of executions for the year to 100, far exceeding last year’s tally and putting it on course for a new record.
According to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency, two more convicted criminals were killed by the government on Monday – including a foreign national guilty only of a non-violent drug smuggling offence.
Ismael al-Tawm, a Syrian man convicted of transporting “a large amount of banned amphetamine pills into the kingdom”, was beheaded in the northern region of Jawf, the AFP news agency reported.
Another man, identified as Rami al-Khaldi, was found guilty of stabbing a fellow Saudi national to death and was executed in the province of Taef.
The tally of 100 for this year, reported by AFP, exceeds both its own tally for Saudi executions last year of 87 and rights group Amnesty International’s, of “90+”.
According to Middle East Eye, the surge in numbers sees the country on the brink of setting a new record for beheadings – other nations like Iran, China and Pakistan have killed more people, but by different methods.
It also puts Saudi Arabia on course to beat its own record of total executions which, according to Amnesty, was set at 192 in 1995.
Earlier this year, the charity's Saudi Arabia researcher Sevag Kechichian observed that the kingdom had reached what an “unprecedented” rate of executions, and called on Salman to “put an end to this shameful record”.
The charity warned that the deaths were all the more concerning given almost half were for drugs-related offences.
But according to Middle East Eye’s Husain Abdulla, the rise in executions can be directly linked to the new King Salman and his recently-appointed inner circle, despite the apparent independence of the Saudi judiciary.
“These men have worked tirelessly to further conflate criminal justice with the authority of the monarchy, all while reasserting the government’s seemingly unshakeable commitment to authoritarian rule,” he reports.
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