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Saudi Arabia executions on the rise, Amnesty International says

  • State-sanctioned execution higher in 2011, AI says
  • Many on death row are foreign nationals

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia must halt the death penalty, as state-sanctioned beheadings increased exponentially in the past six weeks, the London based Amnesty International said Saturday.

"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt this disturbing pattern, which puts the country at odds with the worldwide trend against the death penalty," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a press release.

About 27 people were executed in Saudi Arabia this year so far, the same as the total number of people executed in 2010. Fifteen were executed in May, AI announced.

Five of those executed this year are foreign nationals. Amnesty International has previously documented the disproportionately high number of executions of foreign nationals from developing countries.

About 100 prisoners, many foreigners, are on death row, Luther said.

Prisoners are not allowed legal resources that would allow them due process, AI claims.

"The Saudi authorities must immediately stop executions and commute all death sentences, with a view to abolishing the death penalty completely," he said.

CNN has tried to reach Saudi Arabian officials with no response. CNN cannot independently verify AI's reports and claims.