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Help wanted: Saudi Arabia seeks executioners

Saudi Arabia's King Salman. REUTERS/Saudi TV via Reuters TV
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Saudi Arabia has executed 85 people so far in 2015, already almost hitting the total number of executions in 2014. While Saudi authorities haven't explained what is behind this upward trend, don't expect it to end anytime soon: According to a job posting on a Saudi government Web site, the country is seeking more executioners to help with the workload.

The job listing, posted on the Ministry of Civil Service's site on Monday, advertises a position for "religious functionaries" who would be required to implement a "judgment of death” as well as other punishments, such as amputations. Eight executioners were needed, according to the advertisement.

While no experience is necessary for the positions, potential applicants should bear in mind that the salaries would be on the lower end of the Saudi civil service pay scale.

Saudi Arabia's use of capital and corporal punishment has come under international scrutiny recently, with some observers noting that some of the Saudi kingdom's legal punishments, such as public beheadings, bear a similarity to the punishments meted out by the Islamic State, the extremist organization that operates in Syria and Iraq.

Saudi officials have hit back at that comparison. "When we do it in Saudi Arabia, we do it as a decision made by a court," an Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, told NBC News earlier this year. "The killing is a decision. I mean it is not based on arbitrary choices, to kill this and not to kill this."

Human rights activists are especially critical of Saudi Arabia, however, due to the nature of some of the crimes that result in death penalties. "Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said last year.

In the past, Amnesty International has called the rising use of executions in Saudi Arabia "disturbing" and the organization recently noted that only two countries in the entire world (China and Iran) executed more people last year.

See also

The facts — and a few myths — about Saudi Arabia and human rights

Sweden stood up for human rights in Saudi Arabia. This is how Saudi Arabia is punishing Sweden.