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Judicial CP - May 2002

Arab News, Jeddah/Riyadh/Dhahran, 14 May 2002

Expat jailed for stealing medicines

By Saqr Al-Amri
Arab News Staff

JEDDAH, 14 May - A Shariah court in Jeddah has sentenced an expatriate worker to 18 months jail and 750 lashes for stealing medicines from the Health Ministry's warehouse, according to Dr. Samir Lingawi, director of health in Jeddah. He said the Pakistani, an air-conditioner mechanic, entered the warehouse in the morning under the pretext of fixing a technical problem. Authorities questioned the man when they found considerable shortage in stocks. Officials later seized a large quantity of medicines from the expatriate's possession.

logo   BBC News Online, London, 16 May 2002

Saudi 'torture' condemned by UN

The United Nations Committee against Torture has criticised Saudi Arabia over the amputations and floggings it carries out under Sharia Islamic law.

At a meeting in Geneva, the committee said such penalties violated international conventions against cruel and degrading treatment.

It recommended that the Saudi authorities re-examine their penal code.

The criticism was presented to Saudi delegates who immediately rejected it, saying Sharia law expressly forbade torture.

It is the first time Saudi Arabia has reported to the committee.

All signatories to the Geneva conventions are required to inform the committee about their records in upholding international laws on the treatment of prisoners.

Long-established practice

The BBC correspondent in Switzerland, Imogen Foulkes, says it is perhaps not surprising that Saudi Arabia came in for criticism, given its well-known policy of corporal punishment.

But the Saudi delegation in Geneva said it could not accept interference in its legal system, aspects of which have been practised in the region for more than 1,400 years, it said.

The committee dismissed Saudi protestations that Shari law expressly prohibited torture, pointing out that if this was the case it was not reflected in Saudi Arabia's domestic law.

The human rights group Amnesty International issued a major report on Saudi Arabia in 2000.

It said the kingdom was guilty of widespread human rights abuses, with the silent consent of western powers which are reliant on Saudi oil.

Amnesty said the criminal justice system facilitated torture - often to extract confessions and enforce discipline - while lack of judicial supervision, denial of access to relatives, doctors and lawyers leave prisoners extremely vulnerable to abuse.

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Colin Farrell 2002
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