Saudi Arabia may stop public beheadings… due to a shortage of swordsmen

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  • The Gulf kingdom beheaded 69 people in 2012,  says Human Rights Watch
  • Rape, murder, armed robbery and drug  trafficking all punishable by death

By  Sarah Johnson

PUBLISHED: 04:13 EST, 11  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 06:24 EST, 11 March 2013

 

Saudi Arabia is considering dropping public  beheadings as a method of execution because of a shortage of government  swordsmen in the oil-rich kingdom.

A joint Saudi committee composed of  representatives of the ministries of interior,  justice and health has  instead proposed firing squads for capital sentences.

The committee argued that the measure, if  adopted, would not violate Islamic law, allowing heads – or emirs – of the  country’s 13 local administrative regions to begin using the new method when  needed.

New measure: A committee based in the Saudi capital Riyadh (pictured) is considering dropping public beheadings because of a lack of swordsmen 

New measure: A committee based in the Saudi capital  Riyadh (pictured) is considering dropping public beheadings because of a lack of  swordsmen

The Daily Mirror  in Sri Lanka reported  that the committee said in a statement: ‘This solution seems practical,  especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated  arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid  interruption  of the regularly-taken security arrangements.’

The ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom beheaded  76 people in 2012, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Human  Rights Watch (HRW) put the number at 69.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and  drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version  of Sharia, or Islamic Law. So far this year, three people have been  executed.

Death by beheading has always been a source  of tension between Saudi Arabia and the international community.

There was international outcry, including  from human rights groups, after a Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, was beheaded  in public by sword last month.

Death by beheading has always been a source of tension between Saudi Arabia (capital Riyadh pictured) and the international community 

Death by beheading has always been a source of tension  between Saudi Arabia (capital Riyadh pictured) and the international  community

Executed: Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek was beheaded despite international appeals for her release 

Executed: Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek was beheaded  despite international appeals for her release

Miss Nafeek was sentenced to death aged 17 in  2007 after her Saudi employer accused  her of strangling his four-month-old baby  two years earlier after a  dispute with the child’s mother.

A government spokesman said Riyadh: ‘deplores  the statements made…  about the execution of a Sri Lankan maid who had plotted  and killed an  infant by suffocating him to death one week after she arrived in  the  kingdom.’

The case soured the kingdom’s diplomatic  relations with Sri Lanka, which on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Saudi  Arabia in protest.

The UN’s main human rights body on Friday  expressed ‘deep dismay’ at the beheading, while the European Union said it had  asked Saudi authorities to commute the death penalty.

Riyadh, however, rejected the statements as  ‘external interference’ in its domestic affairs.

The spokesman said: Saudi Arabia ‘respects…  all rules and laws and protects the rights of its people and residents, and  completely rejects any intervention in its affairs and judicial verdicts,  whatever the excuse.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2291452/Saudi-Arabia-drop-public-beheadings-firing-squads-shortage-swordsmen.html#ixzz2NIA5nd63 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook



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