Saudi executes Syrian for drug trafficking

Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a Syrian for drug trafficking, bringing to 108 the total number of executions this year, the interior ministry announced.
Qassem Mohammed al-Hilal had been convicted of importing a “large amount of amphetamine pills” into the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, said a ministry statement carried by state news agency SPA. Authorities resumed executions.
Authorities resumed executions last week after a pause for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday that followed it.
The number of locals and foreigners put to death this year is up sharply from 87 during the whole of 2014, according to AFP tallies.
But this year’s figure is below the record 192 that human rights group Amnesty International said took place in 1995.
Human Rights Watch has accused Saudi authorities of waging a “campaign of death”.
Echoing the concerns of other activists, the New York-based group said it had documented “due process violations” in the legal system that make it difficult for defendants to get fair trials even in capital cases.
Under the kingdom’s strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery , homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.
The interior ministry has cited deterrence as a reason for carrying out the punishment. It has also talked of “the physical and social harm” caused by drugs.
Source: Agence France-Presse, July 31, 2015
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