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Saudi Arabia abolished flogging as punishment


Reforms and repression going hand in hand in kingdom

Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging as a punishment in the kingdom. This was announced by Supreme Court today April 25. The Supreme Court said that the latest reform was intended to "bring the kingdom into line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment".
After this ruling from Supreme Court, the courts now will choose from fines, jail terms or non-custodial alternatives like community service instead of flogging.  
It is part of efforts made by powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to modernise the deeply conservative kingdom. Flogging was commonly used to punish people for different crimes. The Saudi courts were used to give hundreds of public flogging as punishment. The human rights organisations were very critical on the use of flogging as punishment.
When a Saudi court awarded 1,000 lashes and ten years imprisonment to leading Saudi blogger Raif Badawi on the allegation of insulting Islam- it received heavy criticism from human rights organisations and liberal international media.
The abolition of corporal punishment in Saudi Arabia comes just days after the kingdom's human rights record was again in the spotlight following news of the death from a stroke in custody of leading activist Abdullah al-Hamid, 69. Hamid was a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and was sentenced to 11 years in jail in March 2013.
According to Amnesty International, he was convicted on multiple charges, including "breaking allegiance" to the Saudi ruler, "inciting disorder" and seeking to disrupt state security.
Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman also known as MBS has adopted a twin policy in which he has a zero tolerance for political dissent and criticism and launched crackdown against his potential opponents but at the same time he is taking measures to modernise the society. In an effort to tighten his grip on the power- he is going after every possible challenger within the royal family. Many powerful princes were arrested last month on the allegations of organising a coup.
He has ended decades old ban on the women driving. He has also allowed cinemas-theaters and other recreational activities in the kingdom. 
The October 2018 murder of vocal critic Jamal Khashoggi  inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the increased repression of dissidents at home have overshadowed the prince's pledge to modernise the economy and society.
Saudi Arabia has been largely criticised for abusing human rights. Many activists say rights such as freedom of expression is limited and critics of the government end up in prison. The efforts of modernisation and authoritarian rule are going hand in hand in the kingdom. 
                                                                                            Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor 


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