Mohammed Saad-al Beshi, a Saudi state executioner, told Arab News in 2003 that he felt that he was carrying out "God's work" and that "when prisoners get to the execution square, their strength drains away."
The practice is not confined to adults. According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed at least one person under the age of 18 this year, a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The manner by which confessions are extracted also paints a bleak picture, activists say.
"The executions of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of 'confessions' extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia," Boumedouha said.The UN has sought to distance itself from Saudi Arabia on the issue, despite the membership of Saudi Arabia upon the UN Human Rights Council, a position it was elected to by the UN General Assembly.
In September, Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, remarked that
"beheadings as a form of execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibited under international law under all circumstances."Independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council have also been quick to denounce the kingdom's brutal practice, commenting that
"the practice of beheading, especially after unfair trials for crimes that may not carry the death penalty under international law, is shocking and grossly inappropriate."However, as an oil rich Western ally seen as key to the US-led offensive against IS, there remains little hope, at least within the short term, of large scale international condemnation.