Saudi Arabia, a country with a long, dark history concerning human rights violations, is currently beheading prisoners and criminals at what Amnesty International called an “unprecedented rate.”
In the first two months of 2015, for example, 38 people have been executed, including many who were convicted of non-violent drug crimes.
The country’s new leader, King Salman, seems to be even worse than his predecessor when it comes to beheading convicted prisoners. This is reflected in the fact that for the same period in 2014, the number of people executed was three times lower.
Amnesty International’s Saudi Arabian researcher, Sevag Kechichian, told reporters, “Almost half of this year’s executions have actually been for non-violent drugs-related offences. There’s no real rhyme or reason for this upsurge in executions, and in a way this makes it all the more alarming.”
As a Muslim state which practices its own form of Sharia law, Saudi Arabia gives the death penalty for rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery, and drug trafficking.
According to a diplomatic source who spoke to AFP, the increase in executions is due to the new king wanting to show his power.
“The Saudi authorities want to show everyone they are strong, people can rely on them to keep the security and the safety in the kingdom.”
Amnesty International published a report about the situation in Saudi, noting, “Courts continued to impose death sentences for a range of crimes, including some that did not involve violence, such as sorcery, adultery and drug offences, frequently after unfair trials. Some defendants, including foreign nationals facing murder charges, alleged that they had been tortured or otherwise coerced or misled into making false confessions in pre-trial detention.”
Three men were beheaded last Tuesday, one for rape and two for murder, bringing the total number of people executed this year to just under 40.