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In recent years, Saudi Arabia has sought to reform its justice system as part of dramatic changes in the country. Representational image. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s advisory Shura Council has overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to abolish a flogging penalty in drug cases, according to a local newspaper.

In voting down the proposal on Monday, the council was in favour of its security and military committee’s rejection of the draft.

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The committee attributed its stance to an imminent issuance of a comprehensive penal code “covering all parts included in the proposal”.

Last week, Saudi news portal Akhbar24 reported that the Shura member Hadi Al Yammy had proposed amending the kingdom’s anti-drug law to allow abolishing flogging as a form of punishment.

“The proposed amendment targets more than one article related to penalties in the drug and psychotropics-combat law,” the website quoted unidentified sources as saying.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has sought to reform its justice system as part of dramatic changes in the country led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In April 2020, the Saudi Human Rights Commission announced that a royal order had been issued abolishing the death penalty for minors. The order applies to convicts who were under 18 at the time of committing crimes, in a major step seen boosting human rights in the kingdom.

Public prosecution was also directed to amend indictment bills against underage defendants to make the maximum penalty for them 10 years in prison, Saudi media reported at the time.

In the same vein, the kingdom’s Supreme Court has issued a decree revoking the flogging punishment in ta’zir cases (discretionary punishment) and directed courts to limit penalties in such cases to jailing or fines, or both of them or any alternative punishment.

In Islamic code, ta’zir refers to punishment issued at the discretion of the judge in offences for which there is no specific punishment in Islam’s holy text the Quran or hadiths (traditions) of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) — both are the main sources of the Islamic Sharia law.