Friday, 1 April 2011

Saudi Justice

Today I was thinking about Saudi justice.
Whoa...big topic Kiwi!

Yep.  And quite frankly the following musings, opinions, pictures and bits of info might not appeal to a lot of you.  But here we go...

I was driving to Kaeo, a 4 hour trip, and listening to the radio as I went.  The announcer described an incident that occurred recently that he was rather incensed about.

Apparently a group of young men (teens...not really men then!) deliberately turned their car toward a couple of ladies   The ladies had pushchairs, complete with toddlers safely strapped in, and were out for a bit of fresh air and exercise.  The car load of (lots of nasty words) youth proceeded to throw MacDonalds soft drink, complete with containers, out the window of their car at the toddlers...not the ladies....the toddlers in the push chairs, laughing and gesturing rudely while they were at it, and then drove off.

Hence the radio announcers agitation. He asked listeners to text in what they thought should be done to these (more nasty words) losers if they were caught.

My immediate thought was castration....why allow this type to breed?  Most people however preferred public humiliation.  Tie the perpetrators (that's my husbands word - he's a wordsmith) to a pole and let the public throw drink at them.

I'm Aquarian and visual.
It was very easy to visualize thugs tied to poles.   Actually, having sat through a couple of vasectomy's it's very easy for me to visualize castration as well, but I'll move on....

All these visuals got me to thinking about Saudi justice

If this was Saudi and these were Saudi women, particularly high ranking Saudi women, out with their youngsters, should the brainless morons committing this attack be caught it is highly plausible they would never be seen again. 

It is, so I have heard, fairly common for people to be thrown in jail in Saudi without legal representation and left there.  This is paticularly common for the imported lower working class.  I presume they get fed....though I'm not sure how.  It's hard to picture Saudi prison guards feeding prisoners.   

Mr Noor, our ever wonderful taxi driver may be able to enlighten me on this issue because he has been thrown in to cells on a couple of occasions.  Why?  Because he is a Pakistani taxi driver and Saudi drivers are blameless.  I'll tell you more on those stories another day.

Presumably eventually someone rocks up to prisoners and says "Ummmm, we think you've been here long enough, time to go see a judge" but in never really know. 

If you're found guilty there are a number of punishments the Saudi legal system has in it's arsenal.  Which one you get depends on one or a combination of the following factors: 
  • The type of crime committed,
  • The person committing it (Saudi v non-Saudi or Woman v Man) and
  • The judges mood on the day.
 Punishments include:
  • Fines.  And, if you can't pay the fine it's back to the cells you go and will stay till fine is paid or you have expired (which ever comes first).
  • Deportation - I understand once you're out, you are not coming back.  That seems reasonable really.
  • Lashings - I have no data to state how often these occur though every now and then the Arab News will report a case in the paper.    I presume if I spent more time reading the Arab News I'd be better informed.
  • Stonings - I don't recall hearing of such a punishment since I've been in Saudi, but then I don't spend much time listening to Saudi News Tonight.  Here's what I've gathered about stonings - They have to be  done publicly so anyone and everyone is able to throw stones at the gulty party.  Part of the idea behind a stoning, is that no one person can be labeled as the executioner, after all how can you tell who threw the fatal stone.  This reasoning would probably lose it's effectiveness if stonings were private affairs.
I've been asked 'Do they really chop peoples hands off for stealing?'  Honestly, I have no idea.  If they do then either not many people are stealing or very few have been caught because there are not that many one handed persons roaming about the place.

I have been asked 'Do they really chop peoples heads off in Saudi?'  For serious crime like rape and murder and drug trafficking - Yes.

Glenn said the beheadings are no longer public picnic outings.  He also said this is a fairly recent change.  Beheadings now take place behind closed doors.  He got asked if he'd like to go see a beheading prior to them becoming private affairs.  He declined. 

How often do beheadings happen?
I have no idea, though I get the impression it's not as often as some sources would have you believe.  The fact is, the threat of decapitation does have a tendency to make one think before one commits a silly act.

Where do they do this?
In Riyadh it's at Justice Square, also commonly known as Chop  Chop square.

If you had no idea of it's purpose you'd think it's quite a nice square - Large with a nice fountain area, close to cheap shopping and historical sites and great for picnics with lots of room for the kids to run around.
Justice Square, Riyadh
All I know is this....up until recently it was not a good idea to be an expat lurking around Chop Chop Square on Thursdays or Fridays....chopping days.

You could think the Saudi legal system is a bit harsh, but there are times, just some times, like when utter losers abuse, torture and subsequently murder babies and toddlers, as they tend to do far too often in New Zealand, when the Saudi capital punishment method really does have a strange appeal.
The most recent case in point - Man kills toddler and gets seven years in jail....WTF? If some loser took liberties with any of my grand childrens' lives you can bet they'd regret it for a lot longer than seven short years.

But....isn't there always a but...

The Saudi legal system has a number of flaws that, when you look at the whole picture, make it.....well, not nice and seriously lacking in fairness, law and order.

Inconsistency and variations on rulings and interpretation of laws abounds.
Corruption ($$$) is obvious.
Racism is rampant.

And the major flaw, the thing that really irks me, is the sexism, the almost complete one-sided, male dominant-ness of Saudi law.  If you're a Saudi man you can get away with an awful lot.  If you're a woman in this country and expect equal and fair treatment - think again.

Want examples?  Try these for size....

Men, if sentenced to stoning, are buried to the waste.  Should they escape they have paid their dues, they can go home.  Women are buried to the chest - arms and all.   Escape ain't gonna happen.

A Saudi man can forcefully have his way with a woman, admit it but repent and, if the judge is so inclined that day, that's enough for saudi rapist to walk out an honourable man.

The woman who was the victim of forced activity has to have four male witnesses to the act of rape.  Some sources even claim there must be witnesses to the act of penetration.  (Ummmm.....Not sure how they'd manage that).  I understand those four witnesses must each have character references.  If the victim can't present these people the rape is all her fault, she will be punished for committing adultery (if married) or fornication (if single). 

Actually, according to this article on the Saudi legal system pertaining to rape, even if the men are found guilty, it is still possible for the woman to be punished for being alone with an unrelated man and committing adultery.

As far as I can tell, the only way a Saudi man is found guilty of rape is if he confesses to the act and is prepared to face his punishment. (Ummm.... I wonder how often that ever happens?)  

You could think that Saudi law is screwed but, (there's that balancing 'But' again), there are many cases in Western Law where a loop hole technicality lets a guilty party walk, which for serious crime, can seriously suck.  Or, an innocent party is left in jail for years, sometimes on death row, fighting to clear his/her name.  And western countries with the death penalty might not chop heads off with a big curved sword, but premature death is dead however it happens.

Yep. With a four hour trip I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the comparisons between Western and Saudi justice today and came to the conclusion that we in NZ are too soft on our serious criminal element.  We should send them all to Saudi!

Ka Kite,


  1. you need to update your information, since the saudi arabia established, there were stoning sentence in Saudi Arabia. If a man raped a women he will be beheaded. It is impossible for four witnesses to see the penetration, unliss the women by her self addmited to do an adultary and most of the time she would be sent to her family and we call it in Islam ( sitr ) which mean that the goverment or any member of her falmily can spread the word about her adultary. And the above situation apply to a married women..!! if the women is not have been married she will face nothing other than send her home if her family accepted her or if they refuse she will stay at one of the free goverment housing..
    By the way we are not IRAN..!!
    And there is no need for this horrible picture..
    I agree with the racism thing in you first part..

  2. Is that picture real?

    The western legal system is not perfect I know, my husband was in the police for a number of years and more than once the system let him down on a case, but I think I prefer it to the whim of a judges mood any given day.

  3. I will assume that i did mistakes in my writing and you didn't edit it. I was saying that there is no stoning in saudi arabia and ( sitr ) which mean that the goverment or any member of her falmily CAN NOT spread the word about her adultary.

  4. Thanks for reading my blog. I don't edit comments that come in. What someone writes are their thoughts and I don't believe it's right for me to alter them in any way.

  5. what I was looking for, thanks

  6. It isn't true that decapitations just take place behind closed doors. I was at Deera (Chop Chop) Square the day before yesterday: The publicly decapitated a man there. Men, women, children were watching. I was looking away, but I saw the head and the torso being loaded in a car...


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