SAUDI ARABIA ABOLISHES FLOGGING AS PUNISHMENT
|King Salman bin Abdulaziz
April 26, 2020:
Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging as a form of punishment, the country's supreme court announced on 25 April 2020. (Sources: aljazeera.com, 25/04/2020)
The court said the "human rights advances" are part of reforms pushed by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and his son, the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
Court-ordered floggings in Saudi Arabia - sometimes extending to hundreds of lashes - have long drawn condemnation from human rights groups.
Human rights activists, however, say legal reforms overseen by MBS have brought no let-up in the conservative kingdom's crushing of dissent, including through the use of the death penalty.
The Saudi supreme court said the latest reform was intended to "bring the kingdom into line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment".
Previously the courts could order the flogging of convicts found guilty of offences ranging from extramarital sex and breach of the peace to murder.
In future, 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 25 April.
Aliaa Abutayah, a London-based Saudi political activist and an opposition leader, told Al Jazeera the latest change by the Saudi government in its penal code is a "very small change".
"If the Saudi government is serious about legal reform, they should start by releasing all of the political and human rights prisoners they have been holding in their prisons for years," she said.
"The government should also abolish the death penalty, including the practice of executing juveniles," she added.