Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people over the last 12 months, on average one person every two days, according to a report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International.
The report, Killing in the name of justice: the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, said that between January 1985 and June 2015, at least 2,208 people were executed in the kingdom.
The report said at least 102 people had been put to death in the first six months of 2015, compared with 90 across the whole of 2014.
The kingdom follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law and applies the death penalty to a number of crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling. Saudi courts allow for people to be executed for adultery, apostasy and witchcraft.
People can also be executed for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age.
“Saudi Arabia’s faulty justice system facilitates judicial executions on a mass scale,” Said Boumedouha, acting director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement.
The kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death. It ranked third in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.
In one case highlighted in the report, two sets of brothers from the same extended family were executed in August 2014 in the southern city of Najran after being convicted of receiving large quantities of hashish. Amnesty said the men claimed they were tortured during interrogation and sentenced to death largely based on confessions made after being beaten and deprived of sleep.
Indonesia announced in May that it would stop sending new domestic workers to 21 Middle Eastern countries after Saudi Arabia executed two Indonesian women. Siti Zainab and Karni binti Medi Tarsim were found guilty of murder and executed in April.
Amnesty said it had contacted the Saudi interior and justice ministries, but received no reply.
Most executions are carried out by beheading, though some are also done by firing squad. In rare cases, executed bodies have been displayed in public to deter others from committing crime.
In May this year, Saudi Arabia advertised for eight new executioners to cope with an increasing number of death sentences. The role, posted on the civil service jobs portal, was described as “executing a judgment of death” as well as performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences.
Amnesty said almost half of those executed during the last 30 years were foreign nationals, many of whom lack the Arabic skills to understand court proceedings and charges. Almost a third of those executed were for drug-related offenses.
The rights group said Saudi authorities have denied its researchers access to the country. Amnesty said it researched cases for this report by contacting people before their execution and reaching out to relatives and lawyers, in addition to analysing available court documents. The Guardian