Amnesty says human rights in Saudi still urgent issue after king's death

Published January 23rd, 2015 - 02:25 GMT

Amnesty International has lashed out at the Western leaders for turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, voicing concern over the fate of the jailed Saudi activist, Raif Badawi.

"The Saudi regime seems insensitive to human rights and human dignity and unfortunately they are also protected by many Western countries because they have oil and because they are seen as allies in the fight against terrorism," said Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.

Shetty also urged the international community not to forget the case of Badawi following the Saudi king’s death.

Badawi has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes in 20 weekly installments by the Saudi Judiciary. However, the Saudi officials suspended his verdict following an international outcry after he received the first 50 lashes.

"Nothing has changed as of now. Legally he is still going to be flogged every Friday and the only reason they are stopping is for his medical condition to improve so they can hurt him again," Shetty warned.

Raif’s prosecution

The blogger's persecution began in 2008 after he co-founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, where he criticized influential Saudi clerics who follow Wahhabism, a sect which originated in Saudi Arabia.

Although his lawyers appealed for a retrial, the verdict was upheld last May. His sentence included 1,000 lashes, a 10-year prison term, one-million-riyal fine ($266,000), 10-year ban on overseas travel after his release, and 10-year ban from participating in visual, electronic and written media after his release.

Criticism of Wahhabi clerics is viewed as a red line as they play a vital role in supporting the Al Saud regime’s policies.

International human rights organizations have lashed out at Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.

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