Kuwait executed seven people, for the first time since 2017



Kuwait executed seven people for the murder on Wednesday, the Public Prosecution said, with the first executions since 2017 continuing despite pleas from a prominent rights group.

A statement stated that an Ethiopian and a Kuwaiti woman were among those hanged, along with three Kuwaiti men, a Syrian and a Pakistani.

The executions are the first since January 25, 2017, when the oil-rich Gulf state hanged a group of seven people, including a member of the royal family.

This coincided with the visit of the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, and the European Union said that it was summoning the Kuwaiti ambassador in response.

Also read: The UN Security Council condemns the executions in Myanmar

“The European Union calls for a moratorium on executions and a complete de facto cessation of the execution of the death penalty, as a first step towards the official and complete abolition of the death penalty in Kuwait,” the bloc said in a statement.

Amnesty International also called for a halt to the executions, describing them as “the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”.

“The Kuwaiti authorities should immediately impose an official moratorium on executions,” Amna Al-Qalali, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director, said in a statement.

The death penalty is rife in the region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where 81 people were executed in a single day in March, drawing international condemnation.

Kuwait has executed scores of people since imposing the death penalty in the mid-1960s. Most of the convicts were murderers or drug dealers.

In April 2013, Kuwaiti authorities executed three men who were convicted of premeditated murder. Two months later, two Egyptians convicted of murder and kidnapping were executed.

Courts in Kuwait, which has an elected parliament and an active political scene, have handed down death sentences in the past to members of the Al-Sabah family that has ruled the country for two and a half centuries.

“While the Kuwaiti authorities have a duty to bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes, suspects must be prosecuted in accordance with international law in trials that meet Kuwait’s international human rights obligations,” Al-Qalali said.

“The authorities must immediately impose an official moratorium on executions with the aim of abolishing the death penalty once and for all,” she added.

– ‘Cruel punishment’ –

The death sentences in Kuwait come less than a week after Saudi Arabia announced that it had executed two Pakistanis for heroin smuggling, ending a nearly three-year gap in death sentences for drug crimes.

Since then, there have been six more executions for drug offences, including those of two Saudis on Tuesday and a Jordanian citizen on Wednesday.

So far, 136 executions have taken place this year in the kingdom, nearly double last year’s total of 69, according to an AFP tally.

Saudi Arabia executed 27 people in 2020 and 187 in 2019.

Also read: Executions in Iran more than double in the first half of 2022 – NGO

In January 2021, the Kingdom’s Human Rights Commission announced a moratorium on the death penalty for drug offences.

Amnesty said in a statement last week that the recent executions amounted to “trampling on the official endowment”.

“The lives of individuals on death row for drug-related offenses and other crimes are at stake,” she added.

“No matter what crimes were committed, no one should suffer such cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

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