Some while back the media was abuzz with news of 2 young men and 2 young women being arrested from a beach resort after indulging in inappropriate acts. It was reported that the four people were having quite a wild party which also involved singing and dancing. Since such acts are disapproved and not at all encouraged in the Kingdom they were sentenced and each given unique sentences which were different to say the least.
The Criminal Court in Jeddah has sentenced the two young girls involved in the incident to each visit 10 patients who may be admitted in intensive care unit of a government run hospital. However the two young men were given a more physical task, the two young boys have each been sentenced to digging five graves. A source has spoken to us from a daily newspaper in the Kingdom and has said that the prosecutor in the case has raised his objection to the sentencing of the 2 young boys and 2 girls, and has also decided to ultimately challenge the verdict of the criminal court in a higher court.
Like the judge involved in this case, many judges around the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have now started to give preference to alternative sentences or sentences which do not require any jail time. Judge Yasser Al Balawi, the judge at the criminal court in Tabuk is also a well known judge who issues such sentences. He personally has described his preferred method or approach as a way to spare those involved in petty or non lethal crimes and also their families from the negative impact and effect which come as a result of spending time in jail. These negative effects usually end up in family problems, potential unemployment and also a negative social or societal perception about prisoners. These factors can very well increase crime rate in the long run.
Many experts and specialists have also raised their voice for the application and implementation of such alternative sentences especially during the time of the Hajj season. Previously those who were found guilty would either face lashing or have to spend time in jail, however with alternative sentences punishment a service can also be provided to the pilgrims. Let us not forget that the Kingdom is actually the host of these pilgrims, and the instructions for a host in Islam are quite clear.
These services which would be provided to the pilgrims will include the guiding of pilgrims, working in Tawafa organizations and also helping the pilgrims to collect stones to perform the Jamrat rituals, amongst other services. According to a source close to the judiciary, the application of alternative sentencing is currently being implemented during Hajj season and objections have been made to replace harsher penalties with penalties which are more community based which also serve public interest. However the ultimate power of sentencing still rests on the specific judge in the case and he may choose whatever sentencing he finds appropriate.
Source: Arab News
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