The Gulf kingdom has executed 44 people so far this year—more than half last year’s total.
The beheading of a gang leader in Saudi Arabia on Thursday raised the number of executions carried out this year to 44, already more than half the total for 2014.
Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia is “well on track” to far exceed previous annual execution records.
Mansour bin Habeeb bin Mahdi Khalfan, a Saudi, was put to death Thursday in the kingdom’s eastern region after having been convicted of “leading a gang” dealing in hashish, money laundering and forged documents, the interior ministry said. According to an AFP tally, Khalfan was the 44th local or foreigner executed this year in Saudi Arabia, which Amnesty says has regularly been among the world’s top five executioners.
London-based Amnesty says around half of this year’s executions have been for drug-related offenses. The interior ministry cites deterrence as a reason for the punishment, while warning of “the physical and social harm” caused by drugs.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s version of sharia law.
The Gulf state has carried out around 80 executions annually since 2011, with 87 last year by AFP’s tally.