Select this search icon to access the amnesty.ca search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

Saudi Arabia

    May 14, 2020

    Amnesty International is calling on King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to release several notable women’s rights defenders, two years after they were detained.

    On 15 May 2018, a number of prominent Saudi women’s human rights activists were arrested. They had been peacefully advocating for years for the right of women in the kingdom to drive, as well as broader reforms related to the repressive male guardianship system.

    In the days and weeks that followed, more of their fellow peaceful activists were detained as part of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown and smear campaign.

    “It is heartbreaking that two years have now passed with these brave women still behind bars, especially as during this time Saudi women have been enjoying some of the newfound rights they had fought so hard for,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “In prison, many suffered mental and physical anguish – including torture, sexual abuse and solitary confinement. Scores of others, though released, still face trial based on charges relating to their peaceful activism.

    April 27, 2020

    Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it plans to end the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime in cases not involving the counter-terror law, Amnesty International has called on the country to totally abolish the death penalty.

    “While this represents a significant step for Saudi Arabia if implemented, the country’s continued use of the death penalty reached a shocking high last year with 184 recorded executions,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; no country should still be using it and Saudi Arabia’s record is particularly bad in this respect. Saudi Arabia must now establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.

    “It should also not be forgotten that dozens of peaceful human rights activists remain detained following convictions in grossly unfair trials solely for campaigning for equality and justice in a vastly repressive environment.”

    April 27, 2020

    Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people in 2019 – 184 – but there may be fewer this year. Saudi Arabia announced today that it plans to end the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime (although the Royal Decree excludes crimes under the counter-terror law). The death penalty will be replaced with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

    If implemented, this will be a significant step towards respecting the rights to life, to security of person and to freedom from cruel treatment. Does it go far enough? Absolutely not. So Amnesty International is taking this moment to call on Saudi Arabia to take a big step: temporarily halt all executions while a roadmap to total abolition is created.

    In another positive move, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court issued a directive in mid April for courts to end discretionary flogging punishments. Humane replacements could include jail time, fines or community service. It is still unclear whether this applies to mandatory flogging punishments for other offences under Shari’a law, including for alcohol use and sexual offences.

    April 24, 2020

    Responding to news of the death of Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who passed away while in detention in Saudi Arabia, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “We are devastated to learn of Dr Abdullah al-Hamid’s passing while he remained in detention for his peaceful activism.

    “Dr al-Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia, who was determined to build a better world for all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state’s inhumane repression.

    “As a prominent human rights campaigner, Dr al-Hamid’s important work continues to resonate throughout the region. He, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place.

    “We again call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those still imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

    Dr Abdullah al-Hamid

    April 17, 2020

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately release Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who remains detained despite being in coma and in critical condition, Amnesty International said today.

    Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prominent human rights campaigner serving an 11-year sentence for his peaceful activism, suffered a stroke on 9 April and is currently in a coma in the intensive care unit at al-Shumaisi Hospital in Riyadh.

    “It is heartbreakingly cruel that Dr Abdullah al-Hamid remains in detention, even while in a coma,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “Dr al-Hamid, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place. All those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “Older prisoners and those with existing health conditions who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should also be immediately considered for release or alternatives to detention. All those still awaiting trial should also be released.”

    February 26, 2020

    Responding to reports that Saudi Arabia is to launch a Women’s Football League, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The launch of a women’s football league in Saudi Arabia is no doubt a step that will be welcomed by Saudi citizens - but as with other reforms relating to women in the Kingdom, it is also a painful reminder of the abysmal situation for the very women and men who have fought for such change.

    “In recent months, Saudi Arabia has worked hard at ‘sportswashing’ its reputation – trying to use the glamour of sport as a public relations tool to improve its international image, particularly following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    “This drive to improve the overall situation of women in Saudi Arabia can only be welcomed when it goes hand-in-hand with the inclusion of the brave individuals who fought for decades for this change. Instead, they are still locked up and undergoing trials as a form of repression, while those responsible for their torture in detention remain free.

    February 05, 2020

    A new report published by Amnesty International today exposes how despite all their rhetoric of reforms, the Saudi authorities are using the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) as a weapon to systematically silence dissent. Alongside the report, the organisation is also launching a campaign calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders detained for their peaceful expression.

    In the report titled “Muzzling critical voices: Politicized trials before Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court” the organization documents the chilling impact of the SCC’s prosecutions of human rights defenders, writers, economists, journalists, religious clerics, reformists and political activists, including of Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim minority who have suffered grossly unfair trials before the SCC and received harsh sentences, including the death penalty, under vague counter-terror and anti-cybercrime laws.

    January 16, 2020

    Spokespersons available to take media interviews

    Responding to the announcement that the Saudi Arabian human rights organization Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Dutch human rights award, the Geuzenpenning, Amnesty International Netherlands director Dagmar Oudshoorn said:

    “This award recognizes the important work done by ACPRA members like Mohammed al-Qahtani, Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Bajadi who have been in jail for years. This is a strong call from the Netherlands to release all of ACPRA's founders and members from prison.”

    “While Saudi Arabia has recently invested in expensive PR campaigns to improve its image, the continued detention of ACPRA members is one of the most telling examples of the true face of the Saudi authorities and its appalling human rights record.”

    “This prestigious award is a reminder for the Dutch government and others to do everything within their power to ensure the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.”

    January 13, 2020

    The global C20 civil society forum hosted this year by Saudi Arabia is a farcical attempt by the new G20 hosts to whitewash their dire human rights record, Amnesty International said.

    The organization has released a joint statement, along with Transparency International and Civicus, explaining why it will not be engaging in this year’s C20 process, a cycle of preparatory meetings leading up to the annual G20 summit, which started yesterday with a three-day “kick-off meeting”.

    December 23, 2019

    Responding to a Saudi Arabian court’s sentencing of five people to death and three others to prison for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “This verdict is a whitewash which brings neither justice nor the truth for Jamal Khashoggi and his loved ones. The trial has been closed to the public and to independent monitors, with no information available as to how the investigation was carried out.

    “The verdict fails to address the Saudi authorities’ involvement in this devastating crime or clarify the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s remains.

    “Saudi Arabia’s courts routinely deny defendants access to lawyers and condemn people to death following grossly unfair trials. Given the lack of transparency from the Saudi authorities, and in the absence of an independent judiciary, only an international, independent and impartial investigation can serve justice for Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Background

    December 06, 2019

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that Saudi Arabian prison authorities arbitrarily placed human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Waleed Abu al-Khair in solitary confinement and under tightened security. Waleed was placed in solitary confinement in Dhahban Prison near Jeddah on 26 November and for the past week, has been held incommunicado, putting him at heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment. He has been on hunger strike since 29 November in protest against his ill-treatment. Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The fact that Waleed Abu al-Khair is in prison to begin with, let alone serving a 15-year prison sentence, is outrageous. He was imprisoned under bogus terrorism-related charges simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and defending human rights. He is one amongst scores of Saudi women and men being punished for standing up for their fellow citizens’ rights.

    November 29, 2019

    Spokespersons are available for interviews

    World leaders must address the Kingdom’s heinous human rights record as Saudi Arabia assumes the presidency of the G20 global economic forum, said Amnesty International today. Saudi Arabia is set to assume the presidency of the G20 on 1 December and next year’s G20 summit will be held in Riyadh.

    The organization urges G20 members, to pressure the Saudi Arabian authorities to commit to end the patterns of egregious human rights violations. Member states of the G20 that continue to profit from the arms trade with Saudi Arabia, including the USA, UK and France, must consider the extent to which they are complicit in human rights violations committed by the Saudi Arabia led coalition in the conflict in Yemen, and cease such transfers until these violations have been remedied.  

    November 13, 2019

    Responding to an official announcement and a promotional video published by Saudi Arabia’s state security agency which categorizes feminism, homosexuality and atheism as ‘extremist ideas’, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:

    “The Saudi state security agency’s announcement which labels feminism, atheism and homosexuality as extremist ideas punishable by jail and flogging is outrageous - clearly contradicting the Kingdom’s bogus reformist image which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to flaunt internationally.

    “Feminism, atheism and homosexuality are not criminal acts. This announcement is extremely dangerous and has serious implications for the rights to freedom of expression and life, liberty and security in the country. It peels away the veneer of progress under Mohammed bin Salman and reveals the Kingdom’s true intolerant face which criminalizes people’s identities, as well as progressive and reformist thoughts and ideas at home.

    September 30, 2019

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    One year since the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi citizens are honouring Khashoggi’s legacy by pursuing the fight for their inalienable right to freely express themselves, despite the authorities’ continuing crackdown and the absence of any meaningful signal to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Amnesty International said today.

    “Any talk of assuming responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing is meaningless if not met with the immediate and unconditional release of dozens of individuals who continue to languish in prison, and who continue to be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, solely for having expressed their opinion in a peaceful manner,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

    August 02, 2019

    Saudi Arabia must follow up on crucial reforms announced today to address women’s rights by ending its persecution of women’s rights defenders and immediately and unconditionally releasing those who are currently detained for their peaceful activism, said Amnesty International.

    Saudi Arabian newspapers announced major reforms to several laws easing some of the major restrictions which are imposed on women as part of the country’s repressive male guardianship system. The reforms will allow women the right to obtain a passport that should make it possible for them to travel without the permission of a male guardian. They also give women equal rights to lead household and some family-related matters.

    “The reforms announced today are a significant but long overdue step forward for women’s rights. These changes are a clear testament to the tireless campaigning of women’s rights activists who have battled against rampant discrimination in Saudi Arabia for decades,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director. 

    Pages

    Subscribe to Saudi Arabia