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Saudi Arabia

    February 03, 2017

    In a landmark judicial review case on 7, 8 and 10 February, the UK High Court will determine the legality of the UK government’s arms transfers to Saudi Arabia amid the current armed conflict in Yemen.

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rights Watch (UK) and Oxfam will make submissions to the Court, in a legal challenge brought by Campaign against Arms Trade (CAAT).

    “The UK government’s repeated refusal to halt arms transfers beggars belief, given the extensive and credible reporting showing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s ongoing serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes,” said James Lynch, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    “It is a sad state of affairs that NGOs have to go to court in an effort to force the UK government to do the right thing for the people of Yemen. 

    January 10, 2017

    Saudi Arabia’s authorities have begun the year with an intensified crackdown against human rights activists dealing another heavy blow to the last vestiges of the country’s embattled civil society, said Amnesty International.

    A string of activists have been detained or appeared in court in recent weeks in connection with their peaceful human rights work signalling that the authorities plan to continue with their ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent. Among those affected is an activist who faced charges for providing information to Amnesty International.

    “The latest string of arrests has sparked fears that 2017 will be yet another dark year for human rights in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities continue with their attempts to crush any semblance of a human rights movement in the country,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional office. 

    December 19, 2016

    Saudi Arabia should immediately abandon all use of cluster munitions, destroy its stockpile and accede to the international Convention on Cluster Munitions, Amnesty International said after the Kingdom’s surprise admission today that it used the inherently indiscriminate weapon in Yemen.

    General Ahmed al-Asiri, the spokesperson for the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, stated today that it would cease use of UK-made BL-755 cluster munitions, confirming Amnesty International’s finding that this type had been used since at least December 2015. Amnesty International previously revealed the coalition’s use of UK, US and Brazilian-made cluster munitions in the conflict.

    December 06, 2016

    The condemning of 15 people to death by the Specialized Criminal Court today after a grossly unfair trial is a travesty of justice and a serious violation of human rights, said Amnesty International. 

    The men were among 32 people arrested across Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014 who were accused of spying for Iran. Fifteen others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years and two were acquitted.

    The men were charged with a series of offences including “high treason” with some facing several other ludicrous charges which should not be considered criminal offences such as “supporting protests”, “spreading the Shi’a faith” and “possessing banned books and videos”. 

    “Sentencing 15 people to death after a farcical trial which flouted basic fair trial standards is a slap in the face for justice. Time and again, Saudi Arabia’s justice system has been proven to be incapable of ensuring fairness and justice,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    December 01, 2016

    Saudi Arabian human rights defender, Issa al-Hamid, who received a nine year prison term for his work promoting human rights, had his sentence increased today to 11 years in prison, followed by a travel ban of equal duration as well as a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (around 27,000 US Dollars) following an appeal.

    Responding to today’s court ruling by the counter-terror court in Riyadh, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office said:

    “Today’s ruling by the Saudi Arabian counter-terror court is yet another demonstration of the authorities’ continuous ruthless and relentless crackdown on human rights defenders. The appeal presented an important opportunity to correct a deeply flawed ruling. Instead, the authorities chose to proceed with their unabated persecution of human rights defenders by increasing an already unfounded sentence.

    August 29, 2016

    By Rasha Mohamed and Rasha Abdul Rahim

    The airstrike on Abs Rural Hospital in Yemen's Hajjah governorate on 15 August was the fourth attack on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in 10 months. That didn't lessen the shock.

    Sixteen-year-old ambulance driver Ayman Issa Bakri was among the 10 dead. He had been working there since MSF began supporting the hospital in the summer of 2015. When his body was found near the impact site, he was still holding the woman he had been transferring from the ambulance to the A&E.

    Shortly after, MSF announced it was winding up its operations in Yemen; it is hard to imagine the despair that Yemenis feel when the only hospital for miles disappears.

    At the site of the ruined hospital, Amnesty International identified remnants of bombs that appear to have been manufactured either in the USA or the UK. This would be consistent with what we know about prolific arms exports by these countries to Saudi Arabia and other members of its military coalition.

    July 04, 2016
    By Tawanda Mutasah, Senior Director International Law and Policy at Amnesty International

    Ten years since it was first created the UN Human Rights Council is facing a stark moment of truth.  The credibility of the world’s top human rights body, which was set up to ensure that it is able to effectively address human rights violations without being undermined by geopolitics and competing national interests, is being called into question because of the abysmal track record of one of its members – Saudi Arabia - and the failure of other members to call it to account.

    Since it joined the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014 Saudi Arabia has carried out gross and systematic human rights violations both at home and in neighbouring Yemen.  

    It has consistently ranked as one of the world’s top executioners, has presided over a ruthless crackdown against peaceful dissent and human rights activism in Saudi Arabia and most recently lead a military coalition which stands accused of carrying out war crimes in Yemen.

    June 29, 2016

    Saudi Arabia has committed “gross and systematic violations of human rights” abroad and at home, and used its position on the UN Human Rights Council to effectively obstruct justice for possible war crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement today, making a resounding call for the UN General Assembly to suspend the country’s membership of the world’s top human rights body.

    The groups are calling for Saudi Arabia to be stripped of its rights of membership in the Human Rights Council until it ends unlawful attacks by the military coalition it leads in Yemen and these are credibly and impartially investigated.

    June 07, 2016

    The credibility of the United Nations is on the line after it shamefully caved in to pressure to remove the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition from the UN’s list of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights in conflict, Amnesty International said today.

    Last night a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the change to the list published on 2 June as part of an annual report by his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. The move was a direct result of diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia, angry at the UN’s conclusion that coalition operations had led to the death and suffering of children in the armed conflict in Yemen.

    May 29, 2016

    Saudi Arabia’s authorities today continued their relentless efforts to stamp out independent human rights activism by sentencing another key activist to eight years in prison, Amnesty International said today.

    Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, is the only active founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization, who is not behind bars. He was tried at the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) and sentenced under a repressive counter-terrorism law. He faced a number of different charges which included “communicating with foreign organizations” and providing information to Amnesty International for use in two of its reports. He also faces an eight-year travel ban, during which time he is forbidden from writing on social media.

    April 27, 2016

     

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
    Prime Minister of Canada

     

    Re: Open Letter to the Prime Minister on Saudi arms deal authorization

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

    We, the undersigned, wish to express our profound concerns about the issuance of export permits for Canada’s multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, despite the flagrant incompatibilities of this contract with the human rights safeguards of our export controls.

    To provide such a large supply of lethal weapons to a regime with such an appalling record of human rights abuses is immoral and unethical. The spirit and letter of both domestic export controls and international law support this view. The government has had every opportunity to uphold this position, but has chosen not to. We therefore ask the government to rescind the export permits, ensuring that this deal does not go ahead unless and until relevant human rights concerns have been resolved.

    April 24, 2016

    The sentencing of human rights activist Issa al-Hamid to nine years in prison and a travel ban of equal duration is the latest evidence of the Saudi Arabian authorities’ resolve to continue their ruthless onslaught against civil society in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.

    Issa al-Hamid is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization. The majority of its founding members are currently serving lengthy prison terms for their peaceful human rights activism and calls for reform.

    April 20, 2016

    As Saudi Arabia receives Barack Obama today, Amnesty International is urging the US President not to turn his back on victims of repression and human rights violations across the Gulf states.

    In an open letter published ahead of Obama’s meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on 20 April and with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on 21 April, the organization has called on President Obama to ensure human rights abuses are not swept beneath the carpet.

    “President Obama’s trip offers a crucial opportunity for him to demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights and prove to the world that the US government will not sacrifice human rights in favour of US geopolitical and business interests,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 25, 2016

      The sentencing of journalist Alaa Brinji to five years in prison, an eight-year travel ban and a fine of 50,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$ 13,300) for a series of tweets, is a clear violation of international law and the latest demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities’ deep-seated intolerance of the right to peaceful expression, Amnesty International said today.

     He was found guilty on 24 March of a string of charges that included amongst other things, “insulting the rulers”, “inciting public opinion”, and “accusing security officers of killing protestors in Awamiyya” – an area of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

     “The sentencing of Alaa Brinji to a five year prison term is utterly shameful. He is the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent, where the aim appears to be to completely wipe out any and all voices of criticism, said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    March 11, 2016

    The families of three young men arrested for their involvement in anti-government protests while under the age of 18, fear their sons are among four people reported to be facing execution tomorrow, Amnesty International said today.

    The family of Ali al-Nimr expressed fears on social media that he, along with Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, is among the prisoners referred to in a government-run newspaper article published today. The article said the scheduled executions will complete a wave of punishments for terrorism offences that saw 47 people executed on the same day in January.

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