According to reports, the government of Saudi Arabia is to carry out a sentencing of paralysis on a Saudi man as punishment for paralysing another man. It is a draconian punishment for an awful crime. The UK government is doing all it can in order to stop the sentencing from being passed. But is it right to be intervening in the affairs of another country? Blogger Jennifer Smith claims that the British government should not be meddling in the affairs of Saudi Arabia on this occasion.
This week, I had the pleasure of engaging in a Twitter conversation with an ex-MP (Louise Mensch) surrounding the widely publicised Saudi paralysis case. It lasted a matter of minutes, and ended with me being rather unceremoniously blocked.
At the time, I felt a little aggrieved, to put it mildly, for a whole host of reasons. Not least the fact that I’d been blocked before I’d had a chance to respond to her comments; comments that were based on pure emotion, without any substance. I am well aware that many people forward an ill-conceived point through sheer anger and insist on their position being accepted as correct. In this case, empty vessels really did make the most noise.
My opinion, for what it’s worth (and forgive me for shouting this point, but I need to make it perfectly clear) is that punishment by paralysis is completely barbaric. As much as I can digest the viewpoint of some that ‘an eye for an eye’ is an acceptable form of punishment, it just doesn’t sit right with me. But I digress. My opinion on this case, for the purposes of this blog, is not really relevant.
The question I asked to the afore-mentioned ex-MP, the question which sparked such wrath, was this:
Does our government have a right to intervene?
It appears to me that the UK is quickly becoming a USA clone. We have seen many cases over the years of the West trying to make decisions about the internal issues of other countries, almost all of these have ended in conflict, and have left the countries that we’ve meddled with in a worse state than before.
With specific reference to the Saudi paralysis case, we have no right to interfere. We are not in the least bit affected by this, and there is no direct threat to the United Kingdom’s national security. However there are still some people who believe we should be stamping our authority, purely because they don’t agree with what they are doing.
Saudi Arabia has its own laws, set by its own government. The citizens of Saudi Arabia are aware of these laws and should therefore abide by them. I accept the fact that this man was a child at the time he committed his offence, but as a general rule, you should abide by the laws of the land or face the consequences. In the eyes of the Saudi government, their laws represent the interests of all its inhabitants, and act as a deterrent.
The UK prides itself on the fact they advocate democracy and free speech, so if they exercise the freedom they are so proud of, they should allow other countries to have their own rules and let them decide their own fate. Moreover, if the United Kingdom sees fit to meddle in the affairs of other nations, then it should also be open to correction. Should Saudi Arabia tell us we should reinstate capital punishment, or ban alcohol? No, it has no right to. Just as we have no right to tell them how to deal with their criminals. I would also question where we draw the line. If we involve ourselves with this case, what else do we get involved with? Do we tell the US to stop using the death penalty? No, because, like Saudi, they are more than capable of deciding what is in the best interests of their own people. Until the UK as a nation is perfect, we have no right to inflict our views on others, even if we do find their laws and practices incomprehensible. I’ve heard lots of people mention the Saudi man’s human rights, and I truly believe that no one should be denied their human rights. However, it is up to the government of each country to run their own affairs in accordance with International Law.
The only way to deal with breaches of the Human Rights Act is via one International body, which is why we have the United Nations, of which Saudi is a member, incidentally. If every country interfered with everything they felt was wrong, we’d be in a state of constant war.
Yes, we are all entitled to our opinion, and the world would be a very dull place if everyone agreed on everything all of the time. However, as Ricky Gervais once said, “Just because you are offended, doesn’t make you right”. We would do well to listen to this once in a while.
So, back to my original question. Should the UK government intervene? I think probably not. We are not the world’s policeman, and we need to remember that.