Saudi Arabia ends executions for crimes committed by minors, says commission

Saudi Arabia abolishes flogging as a form of punishment

But on Sunday, Saudi officials said they would no longer execute those who committed crimes while they were minors - defined in the kingdom as those under the age of 18.

The court, in an official statement, said on Saturday (April 26) that the "human rights advances" are part of reforms pushed by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and his son, the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The state human rights commission said that the latest reform, which was reported by Saudi media including the pro-government Okaz newspaper, would ensure that no more convicts were sentenced to flogging. "Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility", HRC President Awwad Alawwad said in the statement, according to Reuters.

"This is an important day for Saudi Arabia".

In Saudi Arabia, five people died from COVID-19 virus, pushing the death toll to 144, according to the Health Ministry.

The announcement, citing a royal decree by King Salman, comes two days after the nation mentioned it could ban flogging.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - which Riyadh has signed - says capital punishment should not be used for offences carried out by minors.

The most high-profile instance of flogging in recent years was the case of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in 2014 on charges of "insulting" Islam.

The public spectacle of whipping a handcuffed prisoner for often non-violent crimes had drawn some comparisons to the types of punishment carried out by extremist groups like the Islamic State.

The kingdom has one of the world's highest rates of execution, with suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking facing the death penalty.

However, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 and the increased repression of dissidents at home have overshadowed the prince's pledge to modernize the economy and society.

The pandemic has killed nearly 207,500 people, with total infections nearing 3 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.

But flogging could still be applied as a "hudud" punishment, which under Islamic sharia law is reserved for serious offences including adultery.



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