A beheading in Saudi Arabia.
(ANTIMEDIA) Last year, Saudi Arabia broke its own record for executions in the modern era by beheading 87 people. As horrific as that statistic is, the American ally is currently on track to more than double that number in 2015. In fact, 2014’s number of beheadings in Saudi Arabia has now been surpassed with the most recent slayings of Saudi nationals Awad al-Rowaili and Lafi al-Shammary, both of whom were convicted of smuggling amphetamines.
Saudi Arabia’s state-ordered death count by beheading now sits at 88 for 2015. Even scarier, it only took five months to surpass the 12-month record set only last year.
Human rights activists are unsure of the specific reason for the recent uptick in beheadings. However, what is known is that the increase is related to the Saudi’s new king. After the death of King Abdullah and his almost decade-long reign on January 23, King Salman ascended to power with a much more assertive policy regarding executions.
It has been reported that the death penalty is only carried out with the king’s personal stamp of approval.
Around half of this year’s beheadings have been carried out on foreigners, including eight Yemenis, 10 Pakistanis, Syrians, Jordanians, and individuals from Myanmar, the Philippines, India, Chad, Eritrea and Sudan. Earlier this month, the IB Times reported that the corpses of five beheaded foreigners were hung from a helicopter to set an example for other citizens.
Alarmingly, the Saudi civil service is currently looking to hire eight more executioners, to not only administer beheadings, but limb amputations as well.
According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia ranked 3rd in 2014 in government ordered executions, behind China and Iran.