Rasheed (Rasheed’s World) Abou-Alsamh has an article in The New York Times on ‘Qatif Girl’. He notes that the story has incensed human rights organizations both internationally and within Saudi Arabia. In his interviews with others, he also hears criticism of how the judges, legal scholars, are not competent to actually try cases. Worth reading the full article.
Saudi Rape Case Spurs Calls for Reform
JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 30 â€” The case of a 20-year-old woman who was sentenced to be lashed after pressing charges against seven men who raped her and a male companion has provoked a rare and angry public debate in Saudi Arabia, leading to renewed calls for reform of the Saudi judicial system.
The woman, known here only as â€œthe Qatif girl, â€ was initially subjected to 90 lashes for being alone with a man to whom she was not married.
Her outspoken human rights lawyer appealed the sentence and brought down the wrath of the court, which doubled the womanâ€™s sentence and stripped her lawyer of his license to practice.
The case is now being appealed to the Kingdomâ€™s highest court. Human rights activists and legal observers said the treatment of the woman from Qatif, the man who was raped with her, and her lawyer, call into question the consistency of Saudi justice and make a mockery of the court systemâ€™s commitment to openness and fairness.
The Saudi system still operates without a codified legal system and uses a strict Wahabi interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, to hand down verdicts. Like all institutions in Saudi Arabia, the court system is subject to the absolute authority of the monarchy.
â€œThe system has to be transformed from top to bottom,â€ said Ali Alyami, the executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia. â€œJudges in Saudi Arabia have no more power than the princes want them to have.â€