The report comes from the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in the Arabian Peninsula. On Monday, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced it had beheaded five foreign nationals. Khaled Fetini and Ibrahim Nasser from Yemen, Hassan Omar from Chad, Salem Idriss from Eritrea, and Abdel Wahhab Abdel Maeen from Sudan, were all convicted of murdering an Indian guard and then stealing his money.
The executions occurred in the city of Jeddah along the Red Sea, and according to the report, after beheading by sword, officials then "dangle[d] their corpses from a helicopter for the public to see."
The deaths bring the kingdom’s execution rate to a total of 78 so far in 2015, an alarming statistic which has already faced criticism from Amnesty International. The human rights group described it as a "macabre spike" when compared with last year’s execution rate. In 2014, 87 beheadings occurred throughout the entire year, a number being quickly eclipsed by the first five months of 2015.
Saudi authorities maintain that executions are necessary for "maintaining security and realizing justice," and by law, rape, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, and apostasy, are all punishable by death.
In March, the Saudi criminal court wanted to re-try an atheist blogger who was sentenced to prison and 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam on the Liberal Saudi Network website. That retrial could result in the death penalty.
Earlier this month, the interior ministry announced the execution of three Saudi nationals, two for murder, and one for "smuggling a large amount of banned amphetamine pills."
Filming of the beheadings is also forbidden by the Saudi government. An activist who released a video of a January execution was arrested and put on trial.
"We emphasize respect for the right to life as one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the law," Mohammed al-Muadi of the government-backed Saudi Human Rights Commission told CNN in January. "It should not make us forget the rights of other parties violated by the perpetrators, which has to be seen with the same degree of respect."
According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia ranks third worldwide in total number of executions performed. In 2014, the kingdom’s total trailed Iran’s 289 executions, while China ranks highest, with an unconfirmed estimate ranging in the thousands.
Iraq ranks fourth, with the United States coming in fifth place.