Kuwait executes seven people, first since 2017: statement

A Kuwaiti girl waves the national flag as pilots fly over the Kuwait Towers on February 25, 2022, during celebrations of the country's 61st Independence Day and the 31st anniversary of the end of the Gulf war with the liberation of Kuwait. Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Kuwait City, Kuwait -- Kuwait put seven people to death for murder on Wednesday, the public prosecutions service said, as the first executions since 2017 went ahead despite appeals from a prominent rights group.

One Ethiopian woman and one Kuwaiti woman were among those hanged, along with three Kuwaiti men, a Syrian and a Pakistani, a statement said.

The executions are the first since January 25, 2017, when the oil-rich Gulf country also hanged a group of seven people, including one member of the royal family.

They come only days after Saudi Arabia said it had executed two Pakistani nationals for smuggling heroin, ending a nearly three-year hiatus in executions for drug crimes.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Amnesty International urged a halt to the executions, calling them "the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment".

Kuwaiti "authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions", Amnesty's deputy regional director Amna Guellali said in a statement.

Capital punishment is widespread in the Gulf region, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where 81 people were executed in a single day in March, drawing international condemnation.

Kuwait has executed dozens of people since it introduced the death penalty in the mid-1960s. Most of those condemned have been murderers or drug traffickers.

In April 2013, Kuwaiti authorities hanged three men convicted of murder. Two months later, two Egyptians, convicted of murder and abduction, were executed.

Courts in Kuwait, which has an elected parliament and an active political scene, have in the past handed down death sentences to members of the Al-Sabah family that has ruled the country for two-and-a-half centuries.

"While the Kuwaiti authorities have a duty to bring those responsible for serious crimes to justice, suspects must be tried in accordance with international law in trials that meet Kuwait's international human rights obligations," Guellali said.

"The authorities must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty entirely," she added.

© Agence France-Presse

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