Saudi Arabia is persecuting rights activists and silencing government critics, according to a report issued Oct. 10 by Amnesty International (AI). AI finds that members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) have been persecuted since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. The Saudi government has reportedly targeted 11 of the founding members of the ACPRA since 2011, eight of whom are currently detained, with the remaining three awaiting outcome of their trials. The director of AI's Middle East program, Said Boumedouha charged that "Saudi Arabian authorities have sought to wipe out all trace of ACPRA, just as they have sought to stamp out all critical voices demanding peaceful reform." AI urged the Saudi government to cease its campaign against these political protesters:
By defending rights and speaking out, the ACPRA members and a small group of other courageous human rights advocates, appear to have been seen by Saudi Arabia's rulers as challenging their authority and policies, and to have been targeted in consequence. … Amnesty International considers all eight detained members to be prisoners of conscience and is calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally. The organization is also calling on the authorities to drop the charges against those facing trial and ensure that the sentences and convictions of all ACPRA members are quashed.
AI also urged members of the international community to pressure the Saudi Arabian government to improve human rights standards.
Saudi Arabia's justice system has drawn international criticism in recent years, especially with regard to its high number of executions. Last month two experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty following an increase in executions, with a significant number of the executions completed by beheading. In July then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed deep concern over the harsh sentences and detention of peaceful human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia in recent months. In February, AI criticized the Saudi Arabian counter-terrorism law on the basis that the law will deepen existing patterns of human rights violations and be used to crack down on peaceful dissent.
From Jurist, Oct. 11. Used with permission.