Court-ordered floggings in Saudi Arabia – sometimes extending to hundreds of lashes – have been abolished, the country’s supreme court has announced.
But human rights groups say the headline legal reforms overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have not otherwise softened the conservative Islamic kingdom’s crushing of dissent, including imposition of the death penalty, reports MailOnline.
The Saudi supreme court said the flogging ban is aimed at bringing “the kingdom into line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment.”
In the past, Saudi courts could order the flogging of people found guilty of things as minor as extramarital sex, controversial blogging and breach of the peace all the way to murder.
From now on judges will have to choose between fines and/or jail sentences, or non-custodial alternatives like community service, the court said in a statement reported by AFP on April 25.
The most high-profile instance of flogging in recent years was the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014 for “insulting Islam.”
He was awarded the European parliament’s Sakharov human rights prize the following year.