Human Rights group Amnesty International has condemned a reported Saudi court ruling sentencing a man to be paralyzed as retribution for having paralyzed another man as “outrageous.” In a statement issued Tuesday, the rights group called the punishment “torture,” adding that it “should on no account be carried out.”
The Saudi Gazette, an English language daily paper, reported that Ali Al-Khawahir was 14 when he stabbed and paralyzed his best friend 10 years ago. Al-Khawahir has been in prison ever since, and has been sentenced to be paralyzed if he cannot come up with one million Saudi Riyals ($266,000) in compensation to be paid to the victim, the newspaper reported.
“Paralyzing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director. “That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offenses, as happens in Saudi Arabia.”
The rights group calls this an example of a “qisas,” or retribution, case, adding that “other sentences passed have included eye-gouging, tooth extraction, and death in cases of murder. “In such cases, the victim can demand the punishment be carried out, request financial compensation or grant a conditional or unconditional pardon.” Despite repeated attempts, the Saudi Justice Ministry could not be reached for comment on the case.
“If implemented, the paralysis sentence would contravene the U.N. Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party and the Principles of Medical Ethics adopted by the UN General Assembly,” Amnesty International said.