The directive from the Gulf kingdom’s Supreme Court says flogging will be replaced by imprisonment or fines. It says this is an extension of human rights reforms brought by King Salman and his son, the country’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia has been criticised over the jailing of dissidents, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The last time that flogging in Saudi Arabia hit the headlines was in 2015 when blogger Raif Badawi was subjected to the punishment in public, reportedly after being convicted of cybercrime and insulting Islam. He had been due to receive 1,000 lashes in weekly beatings but global outrage and reports that he nearly died put a stop to that part of his sentence.