Punishing Crime…With Crime

August 23, 2010 at 11:56 am (Human Rights)

Most people have heard of the concept of retributive justice through sayings such as “an eye for an eye” or “let the punishment fit the crime.” Simply put, retributive justice means administering a punishment that is equal or proportionate to the crime.

People do not often think about the possible severity of using these techniques when punishing criminals, however. What if retributive justice meant torturing someone or rendering them paralyzed?

In a recent entry on the blog Human Rights Now, Amnesty International described a case of retributive justice that left my stomach turning. Two years ago, a fight between two brothers in Saudi Arabia left one brother paralyzed. After seven months in prison, the aggressor may receive an additional punishment. In a “how-does-it-feel?” move, the judge wants to inflict paralysis on the man.

According to Amnesty International, “one hospital reportedly said it would be possible to administer the injury at the same place on the spinal cord as the damage the man is alleged to have caused his victim.” It is hard to say which is more disturbing—the judge’s ruling, or the fact that a hospital is willing and ready to intentionally paralyze someone!

What is interesting to note is that Saudi Arabia has signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. How can Saudi Arabia argue that intentionally paralyzing someone does not violate this convention? Retributive Punishment has been a part of Saudi culture for centuries, however there is no place for this kind of violence in a forward-thinking world. Besides, they signed the UN Convention that seeks to end these inhumane acts!

The crime this man committed should not be excused by any means. However, rendering someone paralyzed for the rest of his life because he left someone else paralyzed leaves the world with nothing but two paralyzed people.

For more information:

Amnesty International Blog Post

United Nations Convention Against Torture

Status of the UN Convention Against Torture

Permalink Leave a Comment