Saudi Arabia advertises for eight new executioners as beheadings rise

Swords in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners.

It's recruiting extra staff to carry out an increasing number of death sentences, which are usually beheadings carried out in public.

Apparently no special qualifications are needed for the jobs, whose main role is "executing" but also involves performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offences.

The advert was posted on the civil service jobs portal.

The Islamic kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death, rights groups say.

Protest in Indonesia
Image caption Protests were held in Indonesia in 2011 after a maid from the country was executed in Saudi Arabia

It ranked number three in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the US, according to Amnesty International figures.

A man beheaded on Sunday was the 85th person this year whose execution was recorded by the official Saudi Press Agency.

That's compared to 88 in the whole of 2014, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Amnesty said there were at least 90 executions last year.

Most were executed for murder, but 38 had committed drugs offences.

Indonesian newspaper

About half were Saudi and the others were from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Burma, Chad, Eritrea the Philippines and Sudan.

Saudi authorities have not said why the number of executions has increased so quickly, but diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeal cases to be heard..

A downloadable PDF application form for the executioner jobs, available on the website, said the jobs were classified as "religious functionaries" and that they would be at the lower end of the civil service pay scale.

Political analysts say it might also reflect a tough response to regional trouble.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen's Houthi rebel group, which seized the capital Sanaa and caused the country's president to leave the country.

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