I'm not aware of any sanction imposed on countries for legal but barbaric punishments, such as limb amputation in Saudi Arabia, or caning in Malaysia.
By "barbaric punishment" I mean what most people would consider cruel if they witness it personally, regardless of whether they think the recipient deserves it. (This is more or less an objective test. I suspect proponents of the death penalty will concede that it's cruel, even if they think it's justified.)
So my questions are:
- Have there ever been sanctions for legal but cruel punishments?
- If not, why are there no such sanctions when there are sanctions for torture? (Example: Magnitsky Act)
Possible reasons for the lack of such sanctions are:
Sanctions would violate a country's sovereignty to set their own laws, even if such laws prescribe barbaric punishments.
Sanctions are not completely effective since there may be ways to evade them
Sanctions are not in the economic or political interests of countries that impose them
I'm not convinced by those reasons because:
Sanctions do not violate national sovereignty, since countries that impose sanctions have the right to regulate trade, freeze assets, etc. within their jurisdiction.
Sanctions have pressured politicians in rogue states into changing their behaviour, at least temporarily (e.g. Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, North Korea's 1994 Agreed Framework). Even if sanctions are not foolproof, surely some impact is still better than nothing?
Countries that impose sanctions on rogue states always sacrifice some economic benefit (e.g. oil, trade) but they hope to gain other benefits (such as security or public approval). Abolishing cruel punishments in all countries is a benefit as it would protect citizens who travel overseas if they inadvertently commit a minor offence that attracts cruel punishment.
This leaves me wondering why countries that care about torture and human rights do not impose such sanctions. Is it just an oversight?