Saudi Arabia’s perennially condemned practice of execution by beheading may go the way of the dodo due to a shortage in qualified swordsmen, according to Time. Instead, the Saudi government may begin using firing squads to execute convicted criminals, a practice which comports with Saudi Arabia’s Islamic law.
Last year, Saudi Arabia executed at least 69 people by beheading despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has “no penal code, so prosecutors and judges largely define criminal offenses at their discretion,” according to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report. Crimes which are eligible for capital punishment include rape, murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking and even suspected “sorcery.”
Execution by firing squad fell out of favor long ago in the U.S., supplanted with death by lethal injection and the electric chair. The state of Utah executed Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad at his election in 2010. Oklahoma is the last state in the union which still permits the practice.