Amnesty International has blasted a decision by a court in Saudi Arabia to sentence a man to paralysis for paralysing another man as “outrageous” and urged the Gulf state not to allow it to happen.
Local newspapers in Saudi Arabia reported this week that Ali Al-Khawahir, who stabbed his friend ten years ago, will be paralysed himself if he fails to come up with SAR1m as compensation.
“Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture,” Ann Harrison, deputy director of Amnesty International MENA, said in a statement.
“That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offences, as happens in Saudi Arabia.”
“It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law.”
Al-Khawahir has been in jailed since the age of 14 when he stabbed his friend in an attack in the Eastern Province town of al-Ahsa. The original amount sought for compensation was SAR2m.
The law of qisas, or retribution, in Saudi Arabia means his victim can demand that he suffers exactly the same punishment as he caused.
Amnesty International said a similar sentence of paralysis was imposed in 2010 but it is not known to have been carried out. The human rights group said such a sentence would contravene the UN Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party.
In a separate statement Amnesty International also condemned Kuwait’s decision to execute three men earlier this week, ending a six-year moratorium on capital punishment. State media agency KUNA confirmed the executions were carried out at central prison for three people found guilty of murder.
“In a region where executions are sadly all too commonplace, Kuwait marked a beacon of hope by declining to execute people for almost six years. That hope has been extinguished today. We deplore this resumption of executions, regardless of the crime,” said Harrison.