Saudi authorities have announced the beheading of a Saudi and a Filipino man. According to an Associated Press count, Tuesday's executions bring the number of people beheaded this year in the kingdom to 72. Last year, 137 people were beheaded, rising sharply from 38 in 2006.

The Interior Ministry says Venancio Ladion, from the Philippines, was convicted of murdering a Saudi man in the holy city of Mecca by suffocating the man and piercing his neck with a pen.

Saudi national Fahd al-Shadoukhey was convicted of theft and rape while under the influence of alcohol.

Both men were executed on Tuesday.

Riyadh follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed.

The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has sharply increased and a disproportionate number of those put to death are foreigners, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

The rights group also condemned the kingdom's execution of defendants who were younger than 18 at the time of their crimes and said many of their trials failed to meet international standards for fairness.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed. It has routinely been criticized by rights groups for its stand on capital punishment and for ignoring a U.N. call last year for a moratorium on executions.

The number of executions — which are usually carried out by beheading — rose to 158 last year, giving Saudi Arabia one of the highest rates of execution in the world, Amnesty said. The group recorded 39 executions the year before.

Two more prisoners were put to death Tuesday. Venancio Ladion, from the Philippines, was convicted of murdering a Saudi man in Mecca by suffocating him and stabbing him in the neck with a pen. Saudi Fahd al-Shadoukhey was convicted of theft and rape while under the influence of alcohol.

According to an Associated Press count, Tuesday's executions bring to 72 the number of people beheaded this year.

The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has sharply increased and a disproportionate number of those put to death are foreigners, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

The rights group also condemned the kingdom's execution of defendants who were younger than 18 at the time of their crimes and said many of their trials failed to meet international standards for fairness.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed. It has routinely been criticized by rights groups for its stand on capital punishment and for ignoring a U.N. call last year for a moratorium on executions.

The number of executions — which are usually carried out by beheading — rose to 158 last year, giving Saudi Arabia one of the highest rates of execution in the world, Amnesty said. The group recorded 39 executions the year before.

Two more prisoners were put to death Tuesday. Venancio Ladion, from the Philippines, was convicted of murdering a Saudi man in Mecca by suffocating him and stabbing him in the neck with a pen. Saudi Fahd al-Shadoukhey was convicted of theft and rape while under the influence of alcohol.

According to an Associated Press count, Tuesday's executions bring to 72 the number of people beheaded this year.

A report released by Amnesty Tuesday said almost half of the 1,800 executions recorded by the group over the last 28 years were of foreigners. Most of them were migrant workers from poor and developing countries in Africa and Asia. Often, those defendants are unable to follow court proceedings in Arabic and have no legal assistance, the report said.

Saudi Arabia is home to 5.6 million foreign workers employed in sectors such as oil, business and engineering. The Saudi population is 22 million.

Amnesty said reforms to what it described as a largely secret and summary criminal justice system have failed to deliver needed changes.

"We had hoped that the much-heralded human rights initiatives introduced by the Saudi Arabian authorities in recent years would bring an end to — or at least a significant reduction in — the use of the death penalty," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East director.

"Yet, in fact, we have witnessed a sharp rise in executions of prisoners sentenced in largely secret and unfair trials, making the need for a moratorium more urgent than ever," he said.

Particularly troubling, the group said, is that Saudi law does not disqualify confessions obtained by torture or other illegal means.

The Amnesty report also said female defendants were "at the mercy of an all-male judiciary that enforces rules, customs and traditions that discriminate against women as human beings in general."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.