AGENCIES, Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will soon end flogging as a form of punishment as the country’s Supreme Court is set to implement a directive from higher authorities calling for elimination of flogging as a form of punishment in judicial verdicts.
The apex court’s directive has instructed the General Commission for the Supreme Court to issue a guideline requiring courts to limit their discretionary (Ta’ziri) punishments to jail term, fines, or a mixture of the two.
“The decision is an extension of the human rights reforms introduced under the direction of King Salman and the direct supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman,” the document said.
Flogging in the oil-rich Arabian kingdom has been applied to punish a variety of crimes. Without a codified system of law to go with the texts making up sharia, or Islamic law, individual judges have the latitude to interpret religious texts and come up with their own sentences.
Rights groups have documented past cases in which Saudi judges have sentenced criminals to flogging for a range of offences, including public intoxication and harassment.
Other forms of corporal punishment, such as amputation for theft or beheading for murder and terrorism offences, have not yet been outlawed.
“This is a welcome change but it should have happened years ago,” said Adam Coogle, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. “There’s nothing now standing in the way of Saudi Arabia reforming its unfair judicial system.”