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Public flogging Swiss urge Saudis to end ‘inhumane’ punishment

Amnesty International is calling for unconditional release of blogger Raif Badawi

(Amnesty International )

Switzerland has backed calls for Saudi Arabia to end a punishment of 1000 lashings handed down to a blogger and human rights defender in the country. The man had been due to face another public flogging on Friday, but it has been postponed on medical grounds.

Raif Badawi, a Saudi who founded and runs an online discussion forum, was given the sentence and ten years in prison for his work and activities.

He was sentenced by a tribunal in Jeddah and and will face weekly sessions of 50 lashings. The first was carried out last week.

In a statement, Switzerland said it “condemns” the punishment and is calling on the authorities to “respect its obligations regarding the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment”.

Torture is prohibited under international law the statement added, underlining that Saudi Arabia is also party to the United Nations Convention against Torture.

The human rights group Amnesty International and its Swiss branch have condemned the lashings as “an act of sickening cruelty and humiliation”, calling for Badawi’s immediate and unconditional release.

Around 50 people participated in a public demonstration in Bern on Friday to protest against the flogging decision. The demonstrators handed a petition with more than 9000 signatures to the Saudi embassy calling for the release of Raif Badawi. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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