DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Kuwait on Wednesday put to death seven prisoners in a rare mass execution in the small, oil-rich nation despite facing international criticism over its plans.
The state-run KUNA news agency described those executed as all being convicted of premeditated murder and other charges in the sheikhdom. It identified those killed as three Kuwaiti men, one Kuwaiti woman, a Syrian man, a Pakistani man and an Ethiopian woman.
Kuwait said the executions took place at its Central Prison. It did not identify the method it used to carry out the executions, though the sheikhdom typically hangs its condemned prisoners. However, it can use firing squads as well.
“They deprived the victims of their most sacred rights in this world, which is the right to life,” Kuwait’s public prosecution said in a statement.
Kuwait hadn’t held an execution since 2017, when it similarly carried out a mass execution of seven prisoners, including a ruling family member.
Executions are fairly rare in Kuwait, which has the world’s sixth-largest oil reserves. The last before 2017 were carried out in 2013, when a Pakistani, a Saudi and a “Bidoon” — a name used in the emirate for people without citizenship — were hung.
The European Union immediately criticized the executions, which it said coincided with a visit by European Commission official Margaritis Schinas to the country.
“The EU calls for a halt to executions and for a complete de facto moratorium on carrying out death penalty, as a first step towards a formal and full abolition of the death penalty in Kuwait,” the EU said in a statement, calling the death penalty “a cruel and inhumane punishment.”
Schinas separately warned in a statement that the EU “will draw the consequences this will have on discussions on the proposal to put Kuwait on the visa-free list.” The European parliament had been scheduled to vote on the proposal to lift visa requirements for Kuwaitis and those in neighboring Qatar in the EU on Thursday. The EU separately planned to summon Kuwait’s ambassador to Brussels.
Amna Guellali, an official with Amnesty International, also earlier called for the executions to be halted.
“The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” she said.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.