Saudi Arabia Saturday abolished flogging as a form of punishment, the supreme court announced, hailing the latest in a series of “human rights advances” made by the king and his powerful son, reported AFP. Saudi’s top court said the latest reform was intended to “bring the kingdom in line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment”.
Saudi Arabia’s court-ordered floggings, which sometimes extend to hundreds of lashes, have long drawn condemnation from human rights groups. Previously, the courts could order the flogging of convicts found guilty of offences ranging from extramarital sex and breach of the peace to murder. Now, judges will have to choose between fines and/or jail sentences, or non-custodial alternatives like community service, the court said in a statement seen by AFP on Saturday.
The latest development comes just days after the kingdom’s human rights record was again in the spotlight following news of the death from a stroke in custody of leading activist Abullah al-Hamid, 69. Hamid was convicted on multiple charges, including “breaking allegiance” to the Saudi ruler, “inciting disorder” and seeking to disrupt state security, Amnesty International said.
The most high-profile instance of flogging in recent years was the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for “insulting” Islam.
He was awarded the European parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize the following year.
(With inputs from AFP)
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