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Saudi Arabia

    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. 

    July 25, 2019

    Following the Saudi Public Prosecutor’s call to execute the prominent religious reformist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awda, and ahead of his trial set to take place at the anti-terror court known as Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) on 28 July 2019, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director said:

    “We are gravely concerned that Sheikh Salman al-Awda could be sentenced to death and executed. Since his arrest almost two years ago, Sheikh al-Awda has gone through a terrible ordeal including prolonged pre-trial detention, months of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, and other ill-treatment – all flagrant violations to his right to a fair trial.

    “The Saudi authorities continue to claim that they are fighting ‘terrorism’ when this trial, as well as those of other activists, including the 37 men who were executed last April, are clearly politically-motivated and meant to silence independent voices in the country.

    June 19, 2019

    Responding to the release of the UN report on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which concludes that he was the victim of “an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under human rights law,” and that “there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “We call on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to immediately take up the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to launch an international follow-up criminal investigation. The UN report confirms that the steps taken to date by Saudi Arabia to ensure accountability are not only inadequate, but violate themselves human rights standards, both procedurally and substantively. 

    June 17, 2019

    Responding to the news that Murtaja Qureiris, the young man from Saudi Arabia arrested at the age of 13, will not face execution and has been sentenced to 12 years in prison instead, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf said:

    “The news that Murtaja Qureiris will not face execution is a huge relief for him and his family, but it is utterly outrageous that the Saudi Arabian authorities were seeking the death penalty for someone arrested under the age of 13 in the first place. Use of the death penalty against people under 18 at the time of the crime is a flagrant violation of international law.

    “While the Saudi authorities have spared Murtaja Qureiris’ life in this case, the law in Saudi Arabia still allows people arrested for crimes committed when they were children to be sentenced to death where the crimes are punishable by death under Shari’a (Islamic law).

    June 07, 2019

    Saudi Arabia must not use the death penalty to punish a young man who was arrested at the age of 13 for participating in anti-government protests, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization has confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution sought the death penalty for Murtaja Qureiris in August 2018 for a series of offences, some of which date back to when he was just 10 years old. CNN this week revealed he was facing the death penalty and published video footage showing him participating in bike protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province as a young boy in 2011.

    “There should be no doubt that the Saudi Arabian authorities are ready to go to any length to crack down on dissent against their own citizens, including by resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Maalouf.

    “It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offences that include taking part in protests while he was just 10 years old.”

    May 16, 2019

    This graphic depicts (left to right) Samar Badawi, Iman al-Nafjan, Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Youssef and Nassima al-Sada

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 105/18 HERE

    Eleven Saudi women activists on trial before the Criminal Court in Riyadh risk being sentenced to prison terms on charges related to their women’s rights activism. Many of them have campaigned against the long-standing ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, and the end of the male guardianship system. While seven women activists were temporarily and conditionally released, four others remain in detention. The 11 women remain at risk of being sentenced to prison.

    May 14, 2019

    Today marks the first anniversary of the arrests of several prominent women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, after a shameful year for human rights in the Kingdom in which activists, journalists, academics, and writers were targeted, Amnesty International said today.

    In the past year, Saudi Arabian activists, including several women human rights defenders, have suffered the terrible ordeal of arbitrary detention, unable to speak to or see their loved ones for long months and with no access to legal representation. Women activists also detailed accounts of their torture, ill-treatment and sexual abuse to the court, and many of them now face a prison term for their peaceful activism and speech.  

    May 13, 2019

    Reacting to the onward voyage of the Saudi Arabian state shipping company’s vessel, the Bahri Yanbu, from the Spanish port of Santander this afternoon, Ara Marcen Naval, Deputy Director for Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Laden with arms that will likely be used in the war in Yemen, the Bahri Yanbu has been bouncing off European ports like a pinball. After loading up with Belgian munitions in Antwerp, it has visited or attempted to visit ports in the UK, France and now Spain, and is due to dock at the Italian port of Genoa later this week. 

    “This is a serious test of EU countries’ resolve to uphold their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and EU Common Position on Arms Exports. Several states have failed this test in the space of just a few days.

    “No EU state should be making the deadly decision to authorize the transfer or transit of arms to a conflict where there is a clear risk they will be used in war crimes and other serious violations of international law.

    April 08, 2019

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Rights Watch UK will this week join the appeal against the UK’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia in a fresh legal challenge.

    The organizations will intervene in the case, brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), at the Court of Appeal in London seeking to challenge the legality of the UK Government’s decision to issue licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, despite the risk of the weapons being used for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the conflict.

    “The people of Yemen are being killed and are at serious risk of famine because of the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition’s relentless bombing campaign that has been made possible by British arms and equipment,” said Lucy Claridge, Amnesty International’s Director of Strategic Litigation.

    “How many more people must die before the UK Government admits it is in the wrong? By selling billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, ministers are signing a death warrant for the people of Yemen.

    April 05, 2019

    Responding to reports that the Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested at least seven individuals, some of whom are journalists, writers and academics, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Those arrested include Salah al-Haidar, the son of human rights activist Aziza Al-Yousef, who was temporarily released just a few days ago after more than 10 months of a terrible ordeal. Others include Abdullah al-Duhailan, a journalist, novelist and advocate for Palestinian rights and Fahad Abalkhail, who has supported the Women to Drive Campaign.

    “In their continuing crackdown, it is no coincidence that the Saudi Arabian authorities are shamelessly targeting those citizens who are part and parcel of the society’s vibrant intellectual, artistic, activist landscape. By targeting them, they are signaling to their entire people that there will be zero tolerance of any form of criticism, let alone questioning, of the state’s authoritarian practices.

    April 02, 2019

    Marking six months since the shocking murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “Six months after the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, there are still no real signs of justice or international accountability. It has become clear that the issue is being swept under the carpet by the Saudi authorities and foreign governments for the sake of security cooperation, lucrative business ties and arms deals.

    March 28, 2019

    Responding to the release of three Saudi women activists, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef and Ruqayyaa al-Mhareb, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “The release from jail of Iman al-Najfan, Aziza al-Yousef and Ruqayyah al-Mhareb, who will finally be able to return to their homes and loved ones after their 10-month ordeal of arbitrary detention and torture, is welcome news.

    “This is a long overdue step as these women should never have been jailed in the first place and their release should certainly not be on a ‘temporary’ basis. They have been locked up, separated from their loved ones, subjected to torture and threats for simply peacefully calling for women’s rights and expressing their views.

    “Amnesty International calls on the Saudi authorities to drop all the charges against them and the other women’s human rights defenders, who all must be released immediately and unconditionally.

    March 25, 2019

    Responding to news that two sisters from Saudi Arabia, known as Reem and Rawan, whose lives would have been in danger had they been sent back to the Kingdom, have now left Hong Kong to live safely in a new country, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, commented:

    “It is great news that Reem and Rawan are now in a safer place. They showed immense courage and took huge risks to escape the repeated abuse by their male relatives. The sisters must be allowed to build their lives without living in fear that their family or the Saudi authorities will force them back.

    March 14, 2019

    Speaking to Amnesty is not a crime

    The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    “The charges against the activists are the latest example of the Saudi authorities abusing legislation and the justice system to silence peaceful activists and deter them from working on the human rights situation in the country. This trial is yet another stain on the Saudi authorities’ appalling human rights record, and shows how empty the government’s claims of reform really are,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

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