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UN Appeals for End to Floggings of Saudi Blogger

FILE - Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, pauses during a news conference at U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Oct. 16, 2014.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is appealing to Saudi Arabia to halt the punishment of a liberal Saudi blogger who is expected to be flogged again in public on Friday.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Thursday that flogging at the very least is a "cruel and inhuman punishment" that is prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the Convention Against Torture. He noted that Saudi Arabia has ratified that convention.

Blogger Raif Badawi, co-founder of the Liberal Saudi Network website, received 50 lashes in public last Friday, the first of 20 weekly flogging sessions he was sentenced to after being convicted of insulting Islam. He also was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined $266,000.

The United States and human rights groups also have denounced the practice of flogging, calling it "inhumane." Last week, the U.S. State Department asked Saudi authorities to cancel Badawi's sentence of 1,000 lashes.

Amnesty International said flogging "violates the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in international law."

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