In a region notorious for human rights abuses, Saudi Arabia stands out as most vicious among Arab countries – exceeded only by how Israel brutalizes Palestinians.
Outrageous Saudi human rights offenses include:
• torture and physical abuse;
• political imprisonments under appalling conditions;
• arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions;
• denial of due process and judicial fairness;
• severe restrictions on speech, media, assembly, association, movement, and religious freedom;
• corruption and lack of transparency;
• gender discrimination;
• denial of worker rights;
• human trafficking;
• support for ISIS and other regional terrorist groups; and
• public whippings and beheadings, among other lawless actions.
The kingdom tolerates no opposition to its ruthlessness. In late July, the Saudi Supreme Court upheld death sentences against 14 Shia activists – arrested and convicted last year for demonstrating for democratic rights Riyadh abhors.
Sham court proceedings flagrantly violated fair trial standards. Dozens have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year alone, 26 in the past three weeks.
Forced confessions when obtained are extracted under torture, rendering them null and void under international law.
Article 15 of the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture states:
“Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings…”
Yet Saudis use them to carry out sentences, mostly to further its political agenda, pro-democracy advocates especially targeted.
In a rare public statement, Saudi ministry of (in)justice spokesman Mansour al-Ghafari turned truth on its head, claiming Shia “defendants enjoyed full legal rights.”
UK-based human rights group Reprieve denounced Riyadh’s attempt “to justify (the unjustifiable) executions.”
It called the decision to carry them out “appalling,” adding Ghafari’s statement “is a serious mischaracterization of the trial process against the 14 men.”
UN officials raised “serious concerns about” a secretive process lacking judicial fairness. So-called Saudi judges ignored defendants’ claims “that they had been subjected to torture.”
Riyadh claiming they were arrested on terrorism-related charges was a bald-faced lie.
A Reprieve petition headlined “Stop imminent executions in Saudi Arabia” said the following:
“14 people sentenced to death on protest charges in Saudi Arabia have been prepared for execution and could face beheading within hours. They include a disabled man and two sentenced to death as juveniles.”
“Munir Al-Adam was born with impaired sight and hearing. In their efforts to extract a ‘confession’ from him, Munir’s captors tortured him so badly that he was rendered completely deaf in one ear.”
“Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat was arrested at the airport on his way to take up a place at Western Michigan University in the US.”
“He was burnt with cigarettes and tortured so savagely that his shoulder was broken. He was denied medical care and sentenced to die on the basis of the forced ‘confession.’ “
“The world must tell the new Saudi Prince that these 14 executions are unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go ahead.”
Reprieve called for signatures on its petition to halt the barbaric executions – accessible on its website: act.reprieve.org.uk.
US administrations and Congress are silent about the most horrendous Saudi high crimes – Washington complicit with them in Syria and elsewhere.