Religion and the Legal System do not Mix

From the Grauniad:

A Saudi judge has asked several hospitals whether they would punitively damage a man’s spinal cord after he was convicted of attacking another man with a cleaver and paralysing him, local newspapers reported today…

Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, 22, was left paralysed after a fight more than two years ago, and asked a judge to impose an equivalent punishment on his attacker under sharia law, reports said.


King Faisal specialist hospital said that it would not do the operation. The article quoted a letter from the hospital saying “inflicting such harm is not possible”, apparently refusing on ethical grounds.

No doubt Wronging Rights will come up with something pithy and insightful to say about this, so I’ll sign off with this: gah.

5 thoughts on “Religion and the Legal System do not Mix

  1. Justin Kraus

    August 20, 2010 at 2:13pm

    I’d never defend such a ruling, but dude is the North’s penal systems any better? They are basically revolving doors for the “dysfunctional” rather than places of punishment and rehabilitation for wrongs done. If you take a look at the literature the deterence effect of prison is just about nil as is the success rate of rehabilitation programs. There is very little that we can be pithy or smug about, let alone insightful.

    We don’t have much of a clue what we are doing either and Justice is (frighteningly) relative.

  2. Adam

    August 20, 2010 at 8:23pm

    Are our penal systems better than one which would send letters to hospitals asking if they would intentionally sever someone’s spinal cord?


  3. Ranil Dissanayake

    August 23, 2010 at 7:19am

    Justin – as Adam suggests, my problem is not the deterrence vs. rehab question but the barbaric nature of the punishment suggested. Human Rights, including the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishments, should be immutable.

    And before anyone makes the point, yes, I do think this applies for prisoners of ‘the war on terror’ as well; that the US and UK engage in unacceptable practices does not mean they’re any less unacceptable.

  4. Justin Kraus

    August 24, 2010 at 8:24am

    I wasn’t referencing the deterrence vs. rehab debate. In fact my point was that that debate is stupid because neither deterrence or rehab are actually occurring. Which was why I said we don’t really know what we are doing.
    Nor was I making the facile point that those in glass houses (the West) shouldn’t be throwing stones.
    Rather, as I said, simply that justice is (sometimes frighteningly) relative. We (everyone) just don’t agree yet on it constitutes it, and pithiness isn’t going to get us there, nor am I sure that it is even a worthy goal.

  5. tvguy

    October 5, 2010 at 9:26pm

    Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist

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