An improvement

Good news, up to a point:

Saudi authorities have reduced a Sri Lankan woman’s sentence for adultery from death by stoning to a three-year jail term after an appeal, Colombo’s foreign ministry has said.

The woman, 45, who is married and had worked as a domestic helper in Riyadh since 2013, was convicted in August of adultery with a fellow Sri Lankan migrant worker. The man was given a lesser punishment of 100 lashes because he was not married.

It’s great that she won’t be killed by having rocks thrown at her head. (It’s disgusting that that was ever a possibility.) It’s not great that she’s been sentenced to three years in prison. It’s a violation of her rights. Having sex outside her marriage shouldn’t be any kind of crime; the state should have nothing to do with policing whatever agreements married people make about sex outside the marriage. Some people have open marriages (aka are poly), some aren’t; it’s not a state matter either way.

The death penalty sparked uproar in Sri Lanka, from which hundreds of thousands of men and women migrate to wealthy Gulf Arab states every year to take up jobs as maids or drivers. Their remittances are an important contributor to the south Asian nation’s GDP.

Saudi Arabia has been criticised by western human rights groups for the number of crimes that carry the death penalty there, including adultery, drug smuggling and witchcraft.

Not to mention liberalism, and secularism, and “apostasy,” and atheism.

Saudi Arabia, currently chair of the UN Human Rights Council, has executed more than 150 people this year, mostly by public beheading, the largest number of executions in 20 years, Amnesty International said last month.

That’s not right, actually. Saudi Arabia is the chair of one panel of the HRC, not the HRC itself. The Independent reported in September:

As head of a five-strong group of diplomats, the influential role would give Mr Trad the power to select applicants from around the world for scores of expert roles in countries where the UN has a mandate on human rights.

Such experts are often described as the ‘crown jewels’ of the HRC, according to UN Watch, which has obtained official UN documents, dated 17 September, confirming the appointment.

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said that the appointment, made in June but unreported until now, may have been a consolation prize for the Saudis after they withdrew their bid to head the 47-nation council following international condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record.

So they got a consolation prize for being so wholly unacquainted with the very concept of human rights. Ok…

2 Responses to “An improvement”