Saudi Arabia Beheads 24 Drug Smugglers So Far In 2014

By McCarton Ackerman 11/24/14

Almost half the people beheaded in Saudi Arabia this year were caught smuggling drugs.

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A Turkish man was beheaded in Saudi Arabia last week for drug trafficking, marking a long list of drug traffickers who have been brutally punished for their crime.

Ali Ağırdaş was executed last Thursday in the capital city of Riyadh, bringing the total of number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia this year to 70. He had been convicted of receiving a “large amount of drugs.” Out of all the executions so far this year, twenty four have been for smuggling drugs, according to figures compiled from the Human Rights Watch from Saudi media reports. The country’s ministry released a statement “warning anyone who tries to commit such actions that he will be punished according to Sharia.”

Saudi Arabia does not have a civil penal code that sets out sentencing rules or a way of predicting sentencing based on past outcomes, which often leaves smugglers at the mercy of a judge’s discretion. "Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director for Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this month, Niaz Mohammad Ghulam Mohammad was also executed in the Riyadh region for trying to smuggle “a large quantity of heroin inside his intestines into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has said that he remains committed to stamping out drug use in Saudi Arabia by any means due to “their great harm to individuals and the society.”

However, the country scrapped a mandatory premarital test for drug addiction this past January after the program was deemed a failure by their health ministry. More than 2.5 million people were screened since 2004, but less than 3,000 positive tests were reported. That number stands in stark contrast to the more than 200,000 individuals deemed to be drug addicts by a recent survey, also administered by the Ministry of Health.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.