The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Suzanne Trimel, Media Relations

Amnesty International Urges Saudi Arabia Not to Deliberately Paralyze Man as Punishment


Amnesty International today urged the
Saudi Arabian authorities not to deliberately paralyze a man in retribution
for similar injuries he allegedly caused during a fight.

"We urge the Saudi Arabian authorities not to carry out such a punishment,
which amounts to nothing less than torture. 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," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, acting director of the
Middle East and North Africa Program.

Reports say a court in Tabuk, in the northwest
of the country, had approached a number of hospitals about the possibility
of cutting the man's spinal cord to carry out the punishment of qisas
(retribution), as requested by the injured victim.

One hospital reportedly said it would be possible to medically administer
the injury at the same place on the spinal cord as the damage the man is
alleged to have caused his victim using a cleaver during a fight more than
two years ago, causing similar paralysis.

The court may decide not to impose the paralysis punishment and could instead
sentence the man to imprisonment, financial compensation, or flogging.

The man, whose name has not been made public, was sentenced to seven months
in prison after being tried without legal assistance.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are
absolutely prohibited under international law and violates the United Nations
Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party.

Saudi Arabia regularly sentences people
to various forms of corporal punishment.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace
Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million
supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights
from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes
abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people
wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people - no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world's largest grassroots human rights organization.

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