사우디 아라비아에서 한 십대 소녀가 교사를 폭행했다는 혐의로 공개 태형을 선고 받았다.
올해 13살인 이 소녀는 지난 19일 쥬바일(the city of Jubail) 법원에서 유죄판결을 받음에 따라 두 달의 징역형을 선고 받았을 뿐만 아니라, 같은 반 친구들 앞에서 공개적으로 90대를 맞게 됐다.
이 소녀가 실제로 교사를 폭행했는지 여부와 그 정황은 현재 명확하게 밝혀지지 않았다. 다만 소녀는 카메라가 장착된 휴대폰을 사용하다 발각됐고, 그 이후에 폭행 혐의를 받게 된 것으로 보인다. 이 소녀가 다니는 학교에서 휴대폰 소지는 금지돼있다.
사우디 아라비아에서는 작년에도 한 70대 노파가 자기 집에서 단순히 외간남자와 함께 있었다는 이유로 40대의 태형을 선고 받아 논란이 일었다.
국제앰네스티는 사우디 아라비아 정부에 이 소녀에 대한 태형 선고를 “즉시 철회”해줄 것을 요청했다. 국제앰네스티 크라우디오 코르돈(Claudio Cordone) 사무총장 대리는 “잔혹하고, 비인도적이며 굴욕적인 처벌, 특히 어린이에 대한 태형은 금지돼야 한다.”며 이를 위해 “압둘라 빈 압둘 아지즈 알 사우드(Abdullah Bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud)국왕이 사우디 아라비아 법과 형사소송을 개선하기 위한 절차를 밟아나가야 한다.”라고 지적했다.
Saudi Arabia must prevent flogging of teenage girl
Amnesty International has urged the Saudi Arabian authorities not to carry out the public flogging of a 13-year-old girl charged with assaulting a teacher at her school.
The teenager will reportedly receive 90 lashes in front of her classmates, as well as a two-month prison sentence, following her conviction at a court in the city of Jubail on Tuesday.
“King ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud must intervene immediately to ensure that the flogging sentence is immediately rescinded,” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s interim Secretary General.
“He must also take steps to reform Saudi Arabian law and criminal procedure to ban the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in particular floggings of children.”
The full details of the charges against the girl, as well as the nature of the alleged assault, are currently unclear. However, it appears that the alleged assault occurred after the girl was caught in school with a mobile phone equipped with a camera. Such phones had been banned at the school.
The case follows a media report in December that the Minister of Interior had ordered that the flogging sentences imposed on an elderly woman and two men for khilwa in March 2009 should be carried out. Khilwa is the offence of being caught alone in private with a member of the opposite sex who is not an immediate family member.
Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, a 75-year-old Syrian woman, and one of the men were sentenced to 40 lashes and four months’ imprisonment. The other man was sentenced to 60 lashes and six months’ imprisonment by a court in the town of al-Shamli, north of Riyadh.
“The criminalization of khilwa is a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and to privacy as set out in international human rights standards,” said Claudio Cordone.
“The flogging sentences imposed on Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi and the two men sentenced with her should be rescinded.”
Flogging is mandatory in Saudi Arabia for a number of offences and can also be used at the discretion of judges as an alternative or in addition to other punishments.
Sentences can range from dozens to tens of thousands of lashes, and are usually carried out in instalments, at intervals ranging from two weeks to one month. The highest number of lashes imposed in a single case recorded by Amnesty International was 40,000 lashes. They were imposed in 2009 in a case of a man tried on murder charges.
The use of corporal punishments such as flogging violates the absolute prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment set out in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Saudi Arabia is a state party.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has stated that “corporal punishment is inconsistent with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”