Saudi Arabia is reportedly ending ‘flogging’ as a form of punishment and will instead resort to prison sentences or fines, or a mixture of both, according to a document from the kingdom’s top court. The decision was taken by the General Commission for the Supreme Court, as it said that flogging was punishment without a codified system of law that comprised of Syariah, or the Islamic law, and individual judges might interpret texts and pronounce “their own sentences”, the document confirmed, as per news agency report.
Further, the document reportedly said that the decision was the extension of the human rights reforms which was introduced under directives issued by King Salman in accordance with the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Flogging has long been employed in the history of Saudi Arabia to yield punishments to umpteen offenders for a range of crimes such as public intoxication, harassment, and extramarital sex. Although, the right groups have reportedly been critical of the punishment as they documented several cases in the past in which Saudi judges pronounced flogging for minor offenses.
Awwad Alawwad, the president of the state-backed Human Rights Commission, was quoted as saying that the reform was a momentous step forward in Saudi Arabia’s human rights agenda, and merely one of many recent reforms in the kingdom. Furthermore, Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch reportedly said that the decision was a welcome change but should have happened years ago. He added that there was nothing now standing in the way of Saudi Arabia reforming its unfair judicial system.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s supreme court said that its latest reforms in the law were intended to bring the kingdom into line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment, a leading media outlet reported. This, however, does not outlaw other capital punishments pronounced under the regular law such as beheading for terrorism crimes or murder.