Cape Town – Authorities in Kuwait have executed seven people in the country’s first mass executions in five years, local Kuwaiti media reported on Wednesday.
According to prosecution authorities, those executed have mostly been murderers or drug traffickers.
State-owned news agency Kuna reported that those executed were convicted of premeditated murder and other charges in Kuwait.
Among those killed were three Kuwaiti men, one Kuwaiti woman, a Syrian man, a Pakistani man, and an Ethiopian woman.
Citing information from local media, Kuwait confirmed the mass execution took place at the central prison.
Earlier this week, human rights watchdog Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa called on Kuwaiti authorities to immediately halt these executions.
The organisation said, barely two days before the seven people were put to death, that the death penalty was a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out executions.”
Several human rights groups have further condemned the decision by the Kuwati authorities.
Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of the European Commission said in a tweet on Wednesday: “It is regrettable that, despite raising this yesterday and having received assurances to the contrary, Kuwait went ahead with seven executions today.”
Schinas added that the EU would mull the consequences this would have on discussions on the proposal to put Kuwait on the visa-free list.
Kuwait follows the civil-law system. According to the Kuwaiti constitution, Islam is the main, official religion of Kuwait. Islam and the Islamic Sharia (Islamic law) are the main sources of the Kuwaiti laws and legislation.
The Kuwaiti Personal Status Act (also referred to as Family Law Act) is the main codified law governing matters relating to marriage and family relations of the majority Sunni Muslim population in Kuwait.
According to the 2021 Religious Freedom in the World report, the majority of the country’s citizens adhere to Sunni Islam. The report indicated that there was a large Shi’a minority of around 30% (including Ahmadis and Ismailis).
Iran seeks death penalty for anti-government protesters
Recently, Iranian authorities said they were seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people who participated in anti-government protests which rocked the country in recent weeks.
At least 348 protesters have been killed and 15 900 others arrested in a crackdown by security forces, say human rights groups.
“The Iranian authorities must immediately quash all death sentences, refrain from seeking the imposition of the death penalty, and drop all charges against those arrested in connection with their peaceful participation in protests,” said Diana Eltahawy from Amnesty International.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, which is also based outside the country, the Judiciary Media Centre announced that three individuals arrested during recent protests had been sentenced to death by the Tehran Revolutionary Court on the charges of “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on earth”.