A Saudi newspaper says a ministerial committee is looking into formally dropping public beheading as a method of execution in the oil-rich kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where a death sentence results in beheading in a public square.
The authoritative daily al-Watan reported Sunday that the ministerial committee was considering firing squads as an alternative.
“This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid interruption of the regularly-taken security arrangements,” the ministerial committee said in a statement.
There have been calls in the kingdom for replacing public beheadings with lethal injections carried out in prisons. The kingdom executes anyone convicted of murder, armed robbery, rape and trafficking in drugs.
It has executed 15 people so far this year, 76 last year and 79 in 2011.
There was no official confirmation immediately available of the newspaper’s report.