The Yemeni authorities must immediately commute a sentence of amputation imposed on a man convicted of theft and assault, said Amnesty International.
The defendant received the “cross-amputation” sentence at Sana’a’s Specialized Criminal Court on Sunday 15 September. The sentence, which he can appeal, requires his right hand and left foot to be amputated.
“Amputation is a cruel punishment that amounts to torture and accordingly is a crime under international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“The Yemeni authorities must immediately take steps to abolish this brutal punishment.”
Sunday’s sentence is the first reported cross-amputation sentence passed in Yemen in more than 10 years.
The man was convicted of ambushing and assaulting a man as he transported cash in his car. Six other men also received prison sentences ranging from one to four years for banditry, theft and forming a criminal gang.
The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including the use of corporal punishment. Yemen is a state party to both of these treaties. However its Criminal Code still prescribes corporal punishment, including amputation and flogging, for specific types of “hudud” crimes under Islamic law.
Under Yemeni law, punishment by amputation of the right hand at the wrist is enforced for theft that meets the conditions of a “hudud” crime. A second theft is punished by amputation of the left leg at the ankle. A third offence carries a sentence of 15 years in prison.
Flogging, too, continues to be used as punishment by Yemeni courts in clear violation of Yemen’s obligations under international law.
Yemeni judges enjoy wide discretionary powers to impose corporal punishment raising concerns that it can be imposed inconsistently and in a manner which discriminates against individuals from minority and disadvantaged groups.