In Saudi Arabia No Appeal is Safe

Raif Badawi, an editor of an internet forum founded to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July of last year. An appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial. Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber crime and disobeying his father. The prosecution had demanded that Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge that carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. The judge in last year’s trial had dismissed the apostasy charges.

During his retrial, the court in Saudi Arabia has just imposed a stiffer sentence of 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes. The judge at the criminal court also fined him 1m riyals (£160,000). Badawi’s lawyers said the sentence was too harsh, although the prosecutor had demanded a harsher penalty. The good news is that the ruling is subject to another appeal.

Badawi’s website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti.

In my opinion the sentence seems extremely harsh and defies the most important principles of punishment such as deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, etc. Most people in other cultures, such as in Saudi Arabia, are not as fortunate as us to enjoy constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and expression. In Saudi Arabia, the situation seems to have gotten worse. A man who creates a website to express his views has just been through the appeal system of his country and received an even stiffer sentence for the same crime. Next thing we are going to hear is that people are being arrested for posting “criminal” tweets. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as freedom of expression in a country such as Saudi Arabia and before a thought even comes out of your mouth, you better make sure that it does not get you in jail.

What punishment justifications does this sentence serve?

Does anyone know if Saudi Arabia provides its citizens with some type of freedom of speech protection?

Source: The Guardian

Picture: veooz

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