Saudi Arabia has beheaded 85 people so far this year and is advertising for eight new executioners to carry out an increased number of public executions, reported Reuters Monday. Saudi officials claim the beheadings show the kingdom's commitment to "maintaining security and realizing justice."
Saudi Arabia conducted its 85th beheading on Sunday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. Last year, Saudi Arabia beheaded 88 people, according to Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International counted at least 90 executions last year. The Islamic kingdom consistently ranks in the top five among world nations that put people to death, rights groups say. It ranked third in 2014 after China and Iran, according to Amnesty International figures. "Saudi Arabia struggles with a poorly defined and nontransparent justice system based on religion that metes out draconian sentences," Human Rights Watch has said.
The soaring number of Saudi Arabian executions this year could be a result of an uptick in judicial appointments, which have allowed officials to address a backlog of appeal cases. Many of the executions involved people convicted of murder, while 38 of those put to death had committed drug offenses. The executions involved citizens of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, India and Sudan, among other nations.
Some foreign officials have complained about the executions. In one instance, the Indonesian government summoned the Saudi ambassador after an Indonesian maid was beheaded in April, reported CNN. The woman, 37-year-old Karni Bt. Medi Tarsim, was sentenced to death in March 2013 for killing her employer's four-year-old child. The Indonesian government complained it had not received prior warning. "That is our main issue. It's not that suddenly there was an execution. We didn't know when it would take place. Still, we took over a hundred steps to try to free [the maid] from execution," said Arrmanatha Nasir, spokesman for Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.