Campaigners cautious on Saudi floggings, death penalty reforms

first_imgTopics : It announced over the weekend it was ending the death penalty for those convicted of crimes committed while they were minors as well as effectively eliminating floggings.”While the announced changes represent a major step forward, there remain questions about the extent of their implementation,” Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.”Saudi Arabia’s announced abolishment of the death penalty for child offenders and flogging punishment are not total, but appear to leave in a loophole for them to continue as punishments for certain types of crimes.”Saudi Human Rights Commission president Awwad Alawwad said that instead of court-ordered floggings, convicts will receive fines or prison terms. But flogging could still be applied as a “hudud” punishment, which under Islamic sharia law is reserved for serious offences including adultery.Saudi officials say hudud penalties are rarely meted out as many offences must be proved by a confession or be verified by several adult male Muslim witnesses.Still, observers say the government is unlikely to abolish the penalties entirely as the move would rankle arch-conservatives.Many hardliners are already irked by the Muslim kingdom’s sweeping liberalization drive that has allowed activities once deemed un-Islamic — cinemas, concerts and mixed-gender parties.  ‘Modern penal code’ Citing a royal decree, the HRC said those convicted of crimes while they were under 18 will now receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility.But campaign group Reprieve said “significant loopholes” in the reform still let prosecutors “continue to seek death sentences against children”.It also remains unclear whether the new decree will be applied retroactively, the group added.At least six men from the minority Shiite community are on death row on terrorism-related charges after taking part in anti-government protests as minors, during the Arab Spring uprisings.United Nations human rights experts made an urgent appeal to Saudi Arabia last year to halt plans to execute them.Saudi authorities have not said whether their sentences will be commuted.”These will be nothing more than empty words as long as child defendants remain on death row,” said Reprieve director Maya Foa.”The kingdom continues to execute people convicted of attending demonstrations while they were still in school.”But Alawwad insisted the decree is aimed at establishing a “more modern penal code” and said “more reforms” were coming.The kingdom is seeking to blunt international criticism over its rights record and its opaque judicial system, especially since the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a sweeping crackdown on critics.Activists are skeptical that the reforms will see political prisoners released, pause a government crackdown on dissent or end executions.It executed at least 187 people in 2019, according to a tally based on official data, the highest since 1995 when 195 people were put to death.While the reforms represent “a significant step for Saudi Arabia if implemented, the country’s continued use of the death penalty reached a shocking high last year,” said Heba Morayef, from Amnesty International.”It should also not be forgotten that dozens of peaceful activists remain detained following convictions in grossly unfair trials solely for campaigning for equality and justice in a vastly repressive environment.” Human rights campaigners on Monday cautiously welcomed Saudi moves to abolish court-ordered floggings and end the death penalty for crimes committed by minors, but pointed out “loopholes” in the reforms.The changes underscore a push by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernize the ultra-conservative kingdom, long associated with a fundamentalist strain of Islam. Long faced with scrutiny over its rights record, the kingdom has one of the world’s highest rate of executions.last_img read more

Former Senator Coats confirmed as National Intelligence Director

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Indiana Senator Dan Coats has been confirmed as the Director of National Intelligence.Coats replaces James Clapper, who retired at the end of the Obama administration.The intelligence position was created in 2004 after fallout from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has become critical in helping prevent another terror attack.Coats will oversee 16 other intelligence agencies.last_img

Liberia Diabetes Center Gets Community Educator

first_img– Advertisement – Ms. Jackson The Liberia Diabetes Center (LDC) located on Front Street in Monrovia now has a community diabetes educator in Liberia.She is Ms. Jenneve Jackson. Prior to joining the LDC, she worked for One Source Pharmacy located on Benson Street.According to a dispatch from the United States, Mr. James Momoh, founder and chief executive officer of the LDC, welcomed Ms. Jackson as its community diabetes educator stressing that with the prevalence of diabetes in the country, the message of diabetes management and prevention needs to be heard in every community in Liberia.Momoh said to fight diabetes in Liberia,  awareness will be a key component and Ms. Jackson’s affiliation with the LDC will  achieve one of the many objectives for which the Center was established.“Ms. Jackson comes with a wealth of experience as a diabetes educator and we look forward to providing her with the necessary resources that will be directly intended to benefit Liberians that are dealing with the complications of diabetes,” Momoh said.He urged Liberians to support Ms. Jackson’s effort whenever she is in the community providing awareness on the prevention and management of a medical condition that is now claiming the lives of many Liberians in the country.Ms. Jackson will be providing  diabetes sufferers and those without, the opportunity to benefit from diabetes testing and to encourage them to seek further education and health assessment at the LDC.Momoh said the LDC is not a clinical institution but has all the resources needed for the management and prevention of diabetes.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more