Switzerland urges immediate halt to flogging in Saudi Arabia

Bern, 15.01.2015 - Switzerland condemns the punishment of a man in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 1,000 lashings. After the first 50 lashings were administered last Friday, Switzerland is calling on the Saudi authorities to refrain from continuing the punishment and to respect its obligations regarding the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

Switzerland is concerned by the sentence handed down to the Saudi human rights defender, Raif Badawi, who was publicly flogged on 9 January in Jeddah. This was the first session of the corporal punishment imposed on Mr Badawi, who was sentenced by a tribunal in Jeddah to penalties including a total of 1,000 lashings and 10 years in prison for his activities as founder and manager of an online discussion forum. A second session has been scheduled for 16 January.

The fight against torture lies at the core of Swiss human rights policy. The prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment is absolute under international law. In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is party to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which provide for the right of any individual not to be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment under any circumstances.

Switzerland, which is also party to the Torture Convention, strongly condemns the application of corporal punishment which contravenes Saudi Arabia's international obligations. Switzerland calls on the Saudi authorities responsible to rescind the court's decision against Mr Badawi and to reconsider his case. It also urges the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to adopt legislation that upholds the universal principles and obligations contained in international human rights instruments.

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