Yesterday, the Appeals Court in Jeddah issued a final decision to overturn a 5,000 lashes sentence that was issued against a prisoner over drug trafficking charges. The court decided to cancel this punishment, and replace it with an imprisonment as well as a fine, in accordance with the anti-narcotics and psychotropic substances system. The decision comes following an unprecedented move by the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last year, where the country put an end to flogging as a form of punishment, and the General Commission for the Supreme Court had announced that the punishment would be replaced by either a prison sentence, a fine, or both.
The Appeals Court approved the ruling in the drug trafficking case based on its reasons for all the provisions of the ruling, except for flogging, against four citizens, where it demanded that the death penalty be imposed on three of them, and imprisonment for the fourth. The man was sentenced to five years in prison starting from the date of his suspension, and a fine of 100,000 Saudi riyals. A five-year travel ban beginning after the end of his prison sentence was also included, and the sentence of flogging, which includes 5,000 lashes, was revoked.
As is the case for multiple countries, Saudi Arabia’s judicial system is based on Islamic Shariah law. For decades, flogging was the go-to judicial punishment for crimes like extramarital sex, public intoxication, harassment, and murder. Activists across the globe have repeatedly criticized the Kingdom for this form of penalty, as well as beheading for murder, and amputation for theft. However, now that change is finally being implemented, as Saudi Arabia is transitioning from one era to another, adopting and embracing changes and introducing judicial reforms.