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This chart shows how Saudi Arabia is on course to behead more people than ever before in 2019

INSIDER logoINSIDER 3/24/2019 Bill Bostock
a close up of a map © Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Saudi Arabia is on track to set a new record for beheading people in 2019 if it maintains its current intensity for the rest of the year. 

The kingdom executed 43 people between January 1 and March 13, which trumps the 48 people beheaded between the January and April of 2018, the previous noted record.

Rights groups began documenting execution numbers in the early 2000s. The figures have been trending upwards. 

So far in 2019, 21 people have been beheaded for drugs offences alone. The most recent was a Syrian man killed on March 13 for smuggling amphetamine pills.

The crimes which warrant the death penalty - either by beheading or crucifixion - include murder, terrorism, rape, robbery, arson, burglary, drug trafficking or possession, adultery, renouncing Islam, treason, and espionage.

Saudi Arabia is often ruthless in dispensing the judgment.

On January 2, 2016, 47 imprisoned people convicted for terrorism were beheaded simultaneously across 12 different provinces,

It was Saudi Arabia's largest mass execution since 63 rebels were executed for seizing Mecca's Grand Mosque in 1980.

In 2015, Saudi authorities posted a job advert for eight new executioners to keep up with the rising number of death penalties.

The job description asked for no prerequisite skills, but said the role includes "executing a judgment of death."

While Saudi Arabia is notorious for administering the death penalty, it still trails behind China and Iran, according to a 2017 Amnesty report.

In Iran between 249 and 285 people were executed in 2018, according to Iranian rights groups.

In 4th and 5th place behind Saudi Arabia are Iraq and Pakistan.

The sources of the data used in this article are Death Penalty Worldwide, Amnesty, Independent, Human Rights Watch, European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights.

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