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SAUDI ARABIA: Human rights group urges authorities to flog crime suspect instead of imposing spinal cord punishment

August 21, 2010 |  7:30 am

You know a country's human rights situation is bad when even Amnesty International is urging that a guy be methodically whipped or caned on his back as a compromise to avoid an even harsher sentence.

Human rights monitors have grown alarmed over the case of a Saudi man who might have his spinal cord severed as punishment for badly injuring another guy during a fight a few years ago.

Amnesty International has urged Saudi Arabian authorities not to deliberately paralyze the man as a form of retribution for injuries he allegedly caused with a cleaver during a fight.

"We urge the Saudi Arabian authorities not to carry out such a punishment, which amounts to nothing less than torture," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, acting director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Program, said in a statement. "While those guilty of a crime should be held accountable, intentionally paralyzing a man in this way would constitute torture, and be a breach of its international human rights obligations."

According to Amnesty International, a court in the northwestern Saudi Arabian town of Tabuk had asked hospitals whether they could mutilate the man's spinal cord as requested by his alleged victim. One hospital apparently said it could create the injury.

Amnesty said the court could decide not to impose the punishment and instead sentence the suspect to jail, hand him a stiff a fine or at the very worst, systematically whip or cane him on the back.

Basically, Amnesty, among the world's leading human rights groups, is advocating one form of torture in place of an even more horrific punishment.

The man's name has not been publicized. He was originally sentenced to seven months in prison. Amnesty says he was tried without a lawyer.

-- Los Angeles Times

 

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