Saudi authorities have beheaded a Pakistani national convicted of drug trafficking, bringing to 90 the number of such executions amid international outcry over the "very disturbing" trend.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that the man, identified as Ihsan Amin, was decapitated in the capital, Riyadh, on Thursday after being found guilty of heroin smuggling.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has described Saudi Arabia’s use of death penalty as unprecedented, and said the toll is "one of the highest recorded by the organization during the same period for more than three decades."
The London-based watchdog said on Thursday that almost half of the executions carried out so far this year were for drug-related offences, and about half of those put to death have been foreigners.
"These do not fall into the category of 'most serious crimes', and the use of the death penalty for such offences violates international law," it said.
"With the year yet to pass its midpoint, the (Persian) Gulf kingdom has raced towards this shocking toll at an unprecedented rate," said Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program Said Boumedouha.
"This alarming surge in executions surpasses even the country's own previous dreadful records," he noted.
On Wednesday, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expressed concern about a surge in the number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia.
"It is certainly very disturbing that there is such a fast pace of executions at the moment," Christof Heyns said.
In Saudi Arabia, rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking all carry the death penalty. Beheadings are carried out in public using a sword.
Muslim scholars and clerics have on occasions criticized Saudi authorities for indicting and then executing suspects without giving them a chance to defend themselves.
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