Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Empty promises as crackdown intensifies

"Saudi Arabia has failed on every count to live up to its promises to address the dire human rights situation in the country, said Amnesty International.

An Amnesty International submission ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva on Monday to scrutinize the country’s human rights record details an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment over the past four years.

“Saudi Arabia’s previous promises to the UN have been proven to be nothing but hot air. It relies on its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticizing its dire human rights record,” said Philip Luther, Director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The Saudi Arabian authorities have failed to implement any of the main recommendations from the last review by the UN Human Rights Council – known as the Universal Periodic Review – which took place in 2009.

“Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression,” said Philip 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.”

The new wave of repression against civil society which has taken place over the last two years is documented in Amnesty International’s submission to the UN as part of the review.

Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises highlights how human rights activists and supporters of political reform in the country face repressive measures that include arbitrary arrest, detention without charge or trial, unfair trials and travel bans.

Those imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or association include the founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Organization (ACPRA). Founded in 2009, it became one of the most prominent independent human rights organizations in the country. 

On 9 March, two ACPRA co-founders – Dr Abdullah bin Hamid bin Ali al-Hamid, 66, and Mohammad bin Fahad bin Muflih al-Qahtani, 47 – were sentenced to 10 and 11 years imprisonment respectively. Even on their release they will be subjected to travel bans of at least 10 years. Other co-founders of the group have also been imprisoned......"

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