Vienna, 28 November 2007 - "This cruel and misogynistic sentence must not be carried out," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in reference to the sentencing by the Saudi supreme court of a woman to 200 lashes and six months’ imprisonment after she had been raped by several men.
Plassnik said that she expected the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal to carry out the promised review and to rescind the sentence without delay.
Within the EU Austria had already called on the Saudi Foreign Ministry several days ago to suspend the sentence. To date, however, no positive reaction has been received from the Saudi authorities.
"This sentence is not only a blatant violation of universal human rights but also casts an extremely disquieting light on the legal and judicial system in Saudi Arabia," said the Foreign Minister, recalling that Saudi Arabia had signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. "These basic international obligations have universal validity. Human and civil rights are neither "male" nor "female". There can be no exceptions or distinctions on religious or traditional grounds."
"The findings of the 2005 Arab Human Development Report also apply for Saudi Arabia’s social development as a major regional power: without the involvement of women there will be no renaissance of the Arab world," concluded Plassnik.
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