Kuwait executions an 'alarming trend' in Middle East: HRW
Human Rights Watch criticised Kuwait on Thursday for ending a moratorium on executions by hanging seven people, saying the action was part of a worrying regional rise in use of the death penalty.
"Kuwait's killing of seven people on January 25 highlights the alarming trend in the region for countries to return to or increasingly use the death penalty," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director.
The executions on Wednesday were the first in Kuwait since mid-2013 when five people were hanged in two months following an earlier moratorium of six years.
Those executed this week were two Kuwaitis and five foreigners - two Egyptian men, a Bangladeshi man, a woman from the Philippines and a woman from Ethiopia.
Six of those hanged on Wednesday were convicted of murder, including a member of the ruling family and a woman who burned dozens of people to death at a wedding party.
Sheikh Faisal Abdullah Al-Sabah, the first royal to be executed in the emirate, was convicted of shooting and killing his nephew, another member of the ruling family, in 2010 over a dispute.
Nusra al-Enezi, the other Kuwaiti, set fire to a tent in 2009 during a wedding party in an apparent act of revenge against her husband for taking a second wife.
The Filipina and Ethiopian women were domestic helpers convicted of murdering members of their employers' families in two unrelated crimes.
"Executing seven people in one day shows Kuwait is moving in exactly the wrong direction on the death penalty," Whitson said.
|Kuwait's killing of seven people on January 25 highlights the alarming trend in the region for countries to return to or increasingly use the death penalty.
- Sarah Leah Whitson
"The Kuwait government should be reinstating the moratorium on the death penalty instead of hanging seven people," she said.
Kuwait has executed 74 men and six women since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s. Most of those condemned have been murderers or drug traffickers.
Around 50 prisoners are currently on death row.
Amnesty International also condemned the Kuwaiti executions as "shocking and deeply regrettable."
"By choosing to resume executions now the Kuwaiti authorities have displayed a wanton disregard for the right to life and signalled a willingness to weaken human rights standards," Samah Hadid, Amnesty's deputy campaigns director, said.
|By choosing to resume executions now the Kuwaiti authorities have displayed a wanton disregard for the right to life and signalled a willingness to weaken human rights standards.
- Samah Hadid
The group urged Kuwait to review abolishing the death penalty.
HRW said use of the death penalty was on the rise across the Middle East.
Earlier this month, Bahrain ended a six-year de facto moratorium on the death penalty, executing three people.
Jordan in December 2014 executed 11 people for the first time in eight years.
Since the beginning of 2014, Saudi Arabia has executed more than 400 people, and human rights groups in Iran report the country may have executed as many as 437 last year alone.
Reprieve, a London-based rights group, also criticised the executions and urged countries to call on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to halt executions.