(WXIA) -- According to Egyptian news agency AhramOnline, and reported by Time, Saudi Arabia may abolish beheadings due to a lack of government swordsmen.
Time says a Saudi ministry said a change to execution by firing squad would not invalidate Islamic law.
Execution by beheading has been loudly denounced and condemned by human rights groups for many years.
AhramOnline, quoting a tally by AFP, said 76 people had been beheaded by the Saudi government in 2012, while Human Rights Watch said they had counted at least 69 people.
According to Time, Saudi law says that rape, murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking and "even suspected sorcery" are eligible to be punished by death by beheading.
An article by Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia does not have a penal code. "Prosecutors and judges largely define criminal offenses at their discretion," the article says.