First mass execution in Kuwait since 2017
Human rights organizations argue that it is difficult for the defendants to receive a fair trial
By News Desk - November 16 2022

(Photo Credit: AFP)

On 16 November, Kuwait hanged seven people in the country’s first mass execution event since 2017, according to the state-run Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

Despite appeals from human rights organizations, four Kuwaitis, a Pakistani, a Syrian, and an Ethiopian, were hanged on Wednesday. Of the seven, two of the inmates were female. The reason for the harsh sentence has yet to be disclosed.

Today’s hanging was the first since 25 January 2017, when seven other inmates, including a member of the royal Al-Sabah family, were also hanged.

The execution in 2017 included two Kuwaiti nationals, two Egyptians, a Bangladeshi, an Ethiopian woman, and a Filipina convicted of offenses ranging from murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and rape.

The Filipina and Ethiopian women were domestic workers convicted of murdering members of their employers’ families in two unrelated crimes.

Human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly criticized the country’s capital punishment, arguing that it was “hard for defendants to receive a fair trial.”

Amnesty International called on Kuwait on 15 November to halt the executions, classifying it as a “violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” urging Kuwait to abolish the death penalty.

Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director Amna Guellali remarked that the Kuwaiti authorities should establish an official moratorium on executions.

Kuwait is not the only gulf country that permits the death penalty across the region; other countries such as Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE also use capital punishment.

Earlier this month, Gulf state Saudi Arabia sentenced 15 prisoners to death, raising the number of people at risk for the death penalty to 53; among them are six minors, according to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR).

Most of the executions this year took place on 12 March, when Saudi officials killed 81 detainees on charges of “terrorism-related activities.”

Rights groups later revealed that 41 of those executed were locals from Qatif, a region populated by the kingdom’s Shia Muslim minority. 

At the time, Riyadh claimed the executions were carried out on convicts who held “deviant beliefs, pledging allegiance to foreign organizations.”

In the view of the Saudi authorities, the term ‘deviant beliefs’ constitutes anything that does not conform to the country’s Wahhabi doctrine.

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