12/03/2013 06:05 GMT | Updated 12/03/2013 09:23 GMT

Saudi Arabia May Abolish Beheadings Due To Shortage Of Swordsmen – In Favour Of Firing Squads

Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering abolishing beheadings – because of a shortage of swordsmen.

Egyptian website Al-Ahram quotes daily newspaper Al-Youm as claiming the move is being considered by a Saudi committee comprising representatives of the country’s interior, justice and health ministries.

In a statement, it said: “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.”

The committee argued the step would not violate Islamic law.

Al Arabiya points out that if shooting is approved, it will not be the first time the method of capital punishment has been implemented.

A woman in the city of Ha’il was executed by firing squad several years ago after she was convicted of murdering her husband.


According to Human Rights Watch, at least 69 people were executed in public beheadings in 2012.

An AFP tally puts the number at 76.

Saudi Arabia is also one of just three countries worldwide known to have executed people in the past five years for crimes committed when they are children.

In 2005 there was outcry after a Sri Lankan domestic worker was beheaded in the country for the alleged murder of a baby in her care.