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03/11/2013

Saudi Arabia may end beheadings

Capital punishment is a controversial form of justice but execution by beheading is particularly gruesome.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that practices it – but that may soon end.  

 A step towards ending this barbaric punishment?

Not really.

The kingdom may be running out of swordsmen.

"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," a committee made up of representatives from the interior, health and interior ministries said in a statement, Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper reported.

Beheadings may be replaced with firing squads. Last year Saudi Arabia executed at least 69 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

Those who are beheaded are first dressed in white, blindfolded and made to kneel towards Mecca.

Last month Saudi Arabia was condemned across the world for beheading a young Sri Lankan maid because an infant in her care died in 2005. Rizana Nafeek was accused of murdering the baby although she had had no legal representation, no fair trial and was aged 17 when the boy died.

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour

 

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