Saudi criticized for "ratcheting up repression"
In a claim made Monday by Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia failed to act on U.N. recommendations but rather instead "ratcheted up the repression" since 2009, with the arbitrary detention and torture of activists.
The pre-meeting comment was shared just before a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Saudi’s record, and came just after Riyadh rejected a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Their reasoning was in regards to the international group’s "double standards" and perceived inability to resolve regional conflicts.
"Saudi Arabia's previous promises to the U.N. have been proven to be nothing but hot air," said Amnesty's MENA director Philip Luther. He accused the kingdom of deferring to “its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticizing its dire human rights record."
In its report titled "Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises," Amnesty commented "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 arbitrarily detained, tortured or imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since, the international community has a duty to hold the authorities to account," he said.
In addition, Amnesty revisited requests for Saudi authorities to release two well-known rights activists who were given lengthy jail terms in March.
After what the Saudi government claimed was a violation of cybercrime, Mohammed al-Gahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed were sentenced to 11 and 10 years imprisonment respectively. They allegedly used Twitter to denounce various aspects of political and social life in the kingdom.
The two prisoners are also co-founders of 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.
Other rights violations were documented by Amnesty as well to include "systemic discrimination of women in both law and practice" and "abuse of migrant workers."
Although there are many groups attempting to bring change to the current social and legal restrictions on women, they are not allowed to drive and need full permission from their male guardians to travel.
Amnesty also pointed out that the kingdom performed "executions based on summary trials and 'confessions' extracted under torture."
There have been at total of 69 people executed so far in 2013, according to an Agence France Presse count.