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.

 

Libya jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

Images emerge of Manchester bomber as runners defy threat

Iran leader launches fierce attack on ‘milking cow’ Saudis

Jordan gearing up for another Ramadan with refugees

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt’s left-wing parties start searching for Sisi competitor

US urged to keep track of its Iraq arms supply

Qatar risks US sanctions over support for Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood

US-Turkish relations go from bad to worse

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Egypt Christians bury victims with tears, anger

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester