First Published: 2013-10-21

Amnesty slams worsening Saudi rights record
Rights watchdog accuses Saudi Arabia of relying on its political, economic clout to deter international community from criticising its dire human rights record.
Middle East Online

Saudi authorities 'have ratcheted up the repression" since 2009

DUBAI - Amnesty International on Monday said Saudi Arabia had failure to act on UN recommendations and "ratcheted up the repression" since 2009, with the arbitrary detention and torture of activists.

The London-based watchdog's statement was released ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss the oil-rich kingdom's record, and comes after Riyadh rejected a seat on the UN Security Council, citing the international body's "double standards" and inability to resolve regional conflicts.

"Saudi Arabia's previous promises to the UN have been proven to be nothing but hot air," said Amnesty's MENA director Philip Luther, accusing the kingdom of relying "on its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticising its dire human rights record."

In its report titled "Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises," Amnesty criticised "an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment over the past four years" in the kingdom.

"Not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression" since 2009, said Luther.

"For all the peaceful activists that have been arbitrary detained, tortured or imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since, the international community has a duty to hold the authorities to account," he said.

Amnesty renewed calls for Saudi authorities to release two prominent rights activists handed heavy jailed terms in March.

Mohammed al-Gahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed were sentenced to 11 and 10 years imprisonment respectively for violating a law on cybercrime by using Twitter to denounce various aspects of political and social life in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

They are co-founders of the independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).

"These men are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally," said Luther.

"Their peaceful activism against human rights violations deserves praise not punishment. The only guilty party here is the government," he added.

Amnesty documented other rights violations it said are committed by Saudi authorities such as "systemic discrimination of women in both law and practise" and "abuse of migrant workers."

Women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive and need permission from their male guardians to travel.

It also accused the Sunni-ruled kingdom of "discrimination against minority groups," including Shiites concentrated in the Eastern Province who occasionally protest to demand more rights.

Amnesty also faulted the kingdom for "executions based on summary trials and 'confessions' extracted under torture."

The kingdom has executed 69 people so far this year.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the Gulf state's strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.

 

Gunmen kidnap 17 Turks in Iraq capital

US carries out secret drone campaign in Syria

Netanyahu threatens to shoot stone-throwers

Car bomb kills 10 in Syria regime bastion Latakia

White House wins enough Senate support for Iran deal

Suicide bombers hit Shiite mosque in Yemen capital: witnesses

David Petraeus: Use Al-Qaeda fighters to battle IS

12 Syrian migrants die off Turkish coast

Saudi top cleric slams Iran prophet movie

Iran police to confiscate cars of 'poorly veiled' women

Libya's Tripoli authorities undecided on joining peace talks

Lebanon protesters escalate “You Stink” campaign

Turkey transfers British reporters to new jail

Two Yemeni Red Cross staff killed

Qatar to begin enforcing key labour reform law from November

Syria war takes its toll on heritage riches

Turkey government says it 'had no role' in reporters' arrest

IS claims Tripoli car bomb near oil firm

Dispute with Israel government keeps Christian schools shut

Kuwait charges 24 'linked to Iran' with plotting attacks

Turkey police raid anti-Erdogan media group after British reporters jailed

New Turkey caretaker government holds first meeting

Dozens of Lebanon protesters occupy environment ministry

Shebab attack Somalia AU base

Will Erdogan's political gamble solve Turkey poll impasse?

UN confirms Palmyra temple destroyed

Over 10,000 Icelanders ready to welcome Syrians

Libya loyalist forces battle IS jihadists in Benghazi

South Sudan peace deal in jeopardy

Pressure builds on Europe as refugee crisis exposes splits

Israel confirms jail for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Egypt much delayed elections to start on October 17

Palmyra temple appears ‘largely intact’ after ISIS blast

Turkey to offer cash rewards for tips on ‘terrorists’

Yemen children's hospital on the verge of shutting down

In gruesome video, ISIS shows burning alive of Iraq Shiite fighters

Four years after famine, situation in Somalia remains alarming

A year on, recapture of Yazidi hub remains a distant prospect

IS jihadists move closer than ever to central Damascus

EU leaders call for action to defend migrants’ 'dignity'

IS blows up parts of famed Palmyra temple

Deadly fire at housing complex of Aramco in Saudi Arabia

In historic first, Saudi Arabia allows women to run in local elections

Israel repels protesters with tear gas at separation barrier in West Bank

ISIS brutality in Syria: Over 90 people executed in one month