Saudi Arabia's relentless campaign of beheadings continued last week with the execution of three drug convicts, AFP reports—bringing the number of people put to death so far this year to 63.
Two Yemeni nationals accused of bringing hashish into the kingdom were executed in the southwestern city of Jazan, near the border. A Saudi national was meanwhile executed in the northern region of Tabuk after being convicted of smuggling amphetamines. The desert kingdom seems set to make a new record in beheadings this year, having executed 47 people in a single day on Jan. 2 for "terrorism."
In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people, mostly for drug trafficking or murder (as if these were equivalent crimes), according to an AFP count.
Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest in two decades. The kingdom practices a strict version of Islamic law under which murder, rape, drug trafficking and apostasy are all punishable by death. Perversely, the "Specialized Criminal Court" established in 2008 to hear "security" cases has been used to prosecute human rights activists along with al-Qaeda militants, notes a report in Foreign Policy. Human Rights Watch has called for the special court to be abolished.
Ironically, this is the regime that U.S. leaders and presidential hopefuls—particularly progressive standard-bearer Bernie Sanders—are calling on to take a greater role in fighting ISIS. To be fair, Sanders has admitted that "we have concerns about Saudi Arabia"—but, as Foreign Policy in Focus puts it, that may be the understatement of the campaign.
(Photo Courtesy of royal-flags.co.uk)