Saudi Arabia: Several activists, NGOs and Alkarama launch a campaign to denounce unjust sentences
Several Saudi and foreign activists, NGOs and Alkarama launched a human rights campaign to demand the release of prisoners of conscience in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to denounce the unjust rulings issued by the Saudi authorities recently, which affected a number of prisoners of conscience, including detainees whose sentences have expired or are nearing completion, in flagrant violation of the principles of justice and international laws and covenants.
The campaign statement stated: “The Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been terrible for decades, however, the year 2017 marks the beginning of an even worse years of extreme repressions and violations against hundreds of reformists, activists, media professionals and public figures. Since then, the totalitarian Saudi regime has launched frenzied campaigns of arbitrary arrests and hideous security raids against many honorable citizens in attempts to silence their voices and limit their positive impact on society.”
The statement added: "Recently, the oppressive regime launched a frenzied campaign using its judicial arm to issue harsh and unjustified decades-long sentences against several male and female detainees, in a crude manner that lacks basic criminal and judicial procedures presumed locally, recognized and agreed upon internationally."
Over the past years, Alkarama has followed with great concern the deteriorating human rights situation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and submitted several reports and complaints to the United Nations Human rights bodies and special procedures. Saudi Arabia responded with more repression and disregard for its obligations under international human rights law. In several cases, it even resorted to reprisals against victims and/or their families for filing complaints with the United Nations.
In this context, Alkarama indicates its intention to address the United Nations Committee against Torture in order to expedite the setting of a date for the Periodic review of the State party, and to consider the situation in Saudi Arabia and the extent of its commitment to the recommendations of the Committee during the previous Periodic review.
On May 13, 2016, the Committee against Torture published its concluding observations, after perusal of the second periodic report of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (CAT/C/SAU/2) during its sessions held between 22 and 25 April 2016. In preparation for the review, Alkarama submitted the list of issues and its shadow report to the Committee's experts to assess Saudi Arabia's compliance with the Convention; and the Committee's recommendations largely reflected the main points raised by Alkarama.
Following the second Periodic review, Alkarama launched, along with Saudi civil society, a program to monitor and follow-up on the implementation of all recommendations. In this context, on June 2, 2017, it submitted a follow-up report to the Committee against Torture, in which it clarified with regret that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not implemented any of its recommendations.
In view of the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia and the authorities’ failure to comply with the recommendations of the experts of the Committee against Torture, Alkarama submitted another follow-up report in June 2021, in which it recalled several cases it had previously worked on.
Alkarama called on the State party to address the situation of human rights defenders who had been sentenced to harsh prison, as the Committee considered the matter by asking Saudi Arabia whether it would consider releasing people arbitrarily detained for their peaceful criticism of the authorities or for defending human rights, among them Saud Mukhtar al-Hashemi, Suleiman al-Rashudi, Khaled al-Rashed, Muhammad Abdullah al-Otaibi, Muhammad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu Al-Khair.
Alkarama reminded the Committee of the need to investigate the fate of these prominent figures, all of whom were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty and detained despite requests for their release by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which issued several opinions regarding the arbitrary nature of the detention they were subjected to, according to complaints referred by Alkarama.
Alkarama also raised before the Committee the issue of Safar bin Abdul Rahman Al-Hawali, who is being arbitrarily detained, for publishing a book in which he criticized Mohammed bin Salman's international policy options, presenting him with a set of recommendations.
“We all are aware of the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The documented violations suffered by citizens, the systematic suppression of freedoms, and the prevention of voices calling for reform and change are all in the rise.
This is in addition to unjust arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances of many people for no crime but exercising their legitimate right of free expression or for their great societal impact.
The Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been terrible for decades, however, the year 2017 marks the beginning of an even worse years of extreme repressions and violations against hundreds of reformists, activists, media professionals and public figures. Since then, the totalitarian Saudi regime has launched frenzied campaigns of arbitrary arrests and hideous security raids against many honorable citizens in attempts to silence their voices and limit their positive impact on society. These frantic arrests targeted a large number of journalists, writers, scholars, academics, activists, jurists, and human rights defenders, men and women alike.
Since then, the detained have been languishing in the regime's cells in very poor conditions, during which they have been subjected to various types of violations, such as physical torture, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, prevention from contacting their families, denial of legal representation, in addition to many other abuses. Recently, the oppressive regime launched a frenzied campaign using its judicial arm to issue harsh and unjustified decades-long sentences against several male and female detainees, in a crude manner that lacks basic criminal and judicial procedures presumed locally, recognized and agreed upon internationally.
In addition, there are alarming reports and clear indications that the Saudi regime is recently becoming more determined to issue very harsh sentences that may reach the death penalty against Dr Salman bin Fahd Al-Awda, Dr Awad bin Muhammad Al-Qarni, Dr Ali bin Hamza Al- Omari and Dr Hassan Farhan Almalqi This has been overtly demanded by Public Prosecution at the insistence of high official bodies in the country, led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
We affirm our rejection and utter condemnation of the series of harsh sentences issued by the Saudi judiciary against several prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, including scholars, women’s right defenders, human rights activists, and journalists, simply for expressing their views social media or for their peaceful activism.
We also strongly warn against the regime taking the step of executing scholars, media figures, and symbols of society, most notably Dr. Salman Al-Awda, Dr. Awad Al-Qarni and Dr. Ali Al-Omari, and Dr Hassan Almalqi. We stress that such unprecedented and unjustified step is a clear defiance to justice and international laws and treaties and a blatant provocation, not only for the Saudi society, but for all Arab and Muslim societies and all the peoples of the world who believe in freedom and justice.
To all of this, we appeal to the free world, human rights bodies, scientific and media institutions, the international community, and peoples who believe in justice and peace, to do their role to confront these massive violations practiced by the Saudi regime against prisoners of conscience, and to stand together to prevent the regime from implementing the death penalty against those who defend rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia.”