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Saudi Arabia to eliminate flogging punishment

The elimination of flogging as a punishment is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Kingdom to modernize its judicial system

Image used for illustrative purpose. Relatives watch Saudi police cadets during their passing out parade at a base near Riyadh .

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed
By Staff Writer, The Saudi Gazette

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’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, Okaz Arabic daily has learned from reliable sources.

Apart from this, some media reports claiming to have seen a document from the Kingdom’s top court say that the directive instructs 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.

It is noteworthy that the General Commission for the Supreme Court has issued a decision, with a majority vote, stipulating that it should suffice courts to restrict discretionary penalties to jail term or fine, or both, or alternative penalties, as the ruler sees fit and in line with the regulations or decisions the ruler issues, in this connection.

The sources added that it is incumbent upon the courts to implement this principle and not to digress from it whatsoever.

The elimination of flogging as a punishment is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Kingdom to modernize its judicial system.

In Islamic jurisprudence (Shariah), flogging falls under the category of Ta’zir, meaning punishment dispensed at the discretion of the judiciary or leadership for offenses where punishments are not specified in the Holy Qur’an or the Hadith — the two main sources for the Shariah law.

It may be recalled that late last year, the Saudi Shoura Council member Faisal Al-Fadhil, had called for abrogation of the flogging penalty and restricting it only to Hudood cases, which entail capital punishment, in the Shariah law.

Okaz Arabic daily quoted sources as saying that Al-Fadhil stressed, in this connection, that “the basis for punishment should be reform”.

Al-Fadhil also emphasized that Article Five of the Human Rights Commission gives the HRC the jurisdiction to be involved in the legislative aspects of enacting draft laws related to human rights.

He also called for revising the existing regulations and suggested amending them, in line with the regulatory procedures.

Al-Fadhil called on the Human Rights Commission to come up with initiatives in cooperation with the related authorities to enact new regulations that will fill the legislative gaps pertaining to human rights.

He said that the new regulations are needed especially since the guiding principle of the punitive system as mentioned in one of its articles is that there is no crime or punishment except on the basis of a clear Shariah or regulatory text.” — SG


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