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Saudi Arabia

    December 07, 2018

    An escalating crackdown on freedoms across the Gulf states has brought renewed international attention to the human rights situation in the region, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit which takes place in Riyadh on Sunday.

    “2018 has been a particularly brutal year for peaceful human rights activists, journalists and dissidents in the Gulf states. The abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October shone a global spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record at home and in Yemen. All of the Gulf states gathering on Sunday have continued their suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly over the past year,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    “Gulf leaders can no longer operate on the assumption that they have a carte blanche to treat their citizens like criminals whenever they express dissent without fear of any international repercussions.”

    November 29, 2018

    In response to Minister Chrystia Freeland’s announcement today that the Canadian government will place sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals believed to be involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Amnesty International Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner, Justin Mohammed, said: 

    November 20, 2018

    Several Saudi Arabian activists, including a number of women, who have been arbitrarily detained without charge since May 2018 in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahban Prison, have reportedly faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation, Amnesty International said today.

    According to three separate testimonies obtained by the organization, the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one reported instance, one of the activists was made to hang from the ceiling, and according to another testimony, one of the detained women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, by interrogators wearing face masks.

    “Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.

    November 08, 2018

    In the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Amnesty International staged a public stunt outside the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa on November 8, highlighting the Saudi government’s brutal crackdown on critics and activists.

    Amnesty posted signs outside the embassy that read “Journalists: Proceed with Caution,” after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

    But this is only the latest atrocity in Saudi Arabia’s growing list of human rights violations. A Saudi-led coalition has shown no signs of backing down from its relentless war against Yemen, which has killed thousands of innocent civilians and left more than eight million on the brink of starvation. Canada remains complicit in this war, as the federal government has yet to announce it will halt a $15-billion arms trade deal with Saudi Arabia. Moreover, leading Saudi feminists remain detained without charge, and some continue to be held incommunicado, for speaking up for women’s rights, following a pattern of silencing dissent that is typical of the Saudi regime. 

    November 07, 2018

    Responding to the news that the cases of twelve men from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a minority who were sentenced to death last year have been transferred to the ‘Presidency of State Security’, a body under the King’s direct authority mandated to address all state security matters, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:

    “The families of the men are terrified by this development and the lack of information provided to them on the status of the cases of their loved ones. Given the secrecy surrounding Saudi Arabia’s judicial proceedings, we fear that this development signals the imminent execution of the twelve men. 

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities sentenced these men to death in 2016 for spying for Iran after a grossly unfair mass trial. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners and regularly uses the death penalty as a political tool to crush dissent from the country’s Shi’a minority, demonstrating its total contempt for the value of human life.

    November 02, 2018

    Over the past month, the story of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and subsequent death inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, grabbed headlines around the world.  Renowned journalists have paid tribute to Khashoggi and his work, and Amnesty International is calling on UN Secretary General António Guterres to set up an independent investigation so that we may know the truth of what took place. Canadians from coast to coast have rightfully expressed their outrage over this brutal act, which is only the latest in series of troublesome developments coming out of the Saudi kingdom. Think of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, a fine, a travel ban, and 1,000 lashes for exercising his freedom of expression. Think of Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef, three women’s rights activists who remain imprisoned without charge.

    November 02, 2018

    The credibility of 193 UN member states will be on the line when the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record takes place in Geneva on Monday, Amnesty International said. 

    “UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.

    “The Saudi government’s long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been wilfully ignored by UN member states.

    “The gruesome death of Jamal Khashoggi has shown how far the Saudi Arabian authorities will go in their repression of peaceful dissent, a crackdown which has only intensified since Mohammad bin Salman became Crown Prince.”

    November 01, 2018

    One month ago, on October 2nd, Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. What happened next was a series of dramatic and horrifying events that unfolded as we watched in real time on our screens and smart phones from around the world. His friends, family, colleagues, activists, politicians, and concerned people from around the world asked, “Where is Jamal?”

    October 29, 2018
    Jake Tapper, Nick Kristof, Naomi Klein, Barkha Dutt, Mehdi Hasan, Hamid Mir and others read from Jamal Khashoggi’s last Washington Post column Amnesty International demands truth and accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

    Leading journalists from around the world pay tribute to Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was murdered by Saudi state agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul this month, by reading portions of his final Washington Post column in a video released today by Amnesty International.

    Jake Tapper of CNN, Nick Kristof of the New York Times, Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, Mehdi Hasan of Al-Jazeera English, Naomi Klein of The Intercept, Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post, Egyptian journalist Kareem Shaheen, Lebanese-Australian author and journalist Rania Abouzeid, Hamid Mir of Pakistan’s Geo News and Lebanese editor Rami Khouri all feature in the video.

    October 25, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the European Parliament has condemned the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the killing of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi and called for an arms embargo, Covadonga de la Campa, Interim Director of the Amnesty International, EU Office, said:

    “The recent killing of Jamal Khashoggi has exposed the limits of silent diplomacy when faced with a sharp and sustained disregard for human rights. Amnesty International has documented scores of unlawful attacks committed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, including indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes that have killed and injured civilians and destroyed scores of homes, schools, hospitals, markets and mosques.

    “Given the clear evidence that arms could be used to commit serious violations in Yemen, all arms-supplying states must suspend arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and its coalition members.

    October 25, 2018

    “It seems to be the only way to get the Government to finally do the right thing” - Rachel Logan

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Rights Watch UK will be intervening in an appeal over the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

    The case, which was originally brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), is seeking to test the legality of the Government’s decision to issue licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia despite the risk of the weapons being misused in the conflict in Yemen.

    Last year the High Court in London dismissed CAAT’s case, which had argued that arms transfers to Saudi Arabia should be halted because of the clear risk that the weapons supplied would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. Among other things, the ruling (paragraph 209) discussed the significance of the “finely-balanced” nature of the decision said to be confronting officials and ministers.

    October 24, 2018

    It is appalling that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would stand behind a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, as the country’s atrocious list of human rights violations continues to grow.

    Yesterday, in the wake of the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trudeau said cancelling the $15-billion agreement to sell LAVs to Saudi Arabia would be too costly for Canadian taxpayers.

    Here is Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve’s response:

    - Human rights do not and can never be allowed to carry a price tag.  The people of Yemen do not deserve to be told that protecting their rights and doing everything Canada can do to avoid any degree of complicity in war crimes at the hands of the Saudi-led coalition that has caused so much suffering over the past three years is not worth $1 billion. There is nothing in Canada’s international human rights obligations that sets a financial limit on our responsibility to comply. Any other approach would be unconscionable.

    October 24, 2018

    Following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again under the global spotlight.

    Turkey’s President Erdogan said he believed the death of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul was a “savage murder”.

    But Khashoggi’s killing is only the latest in a long line of violations to add to the Kingdom’s appalling human rights record.

    1 - Devastating war in Yemen

    October 22, 2018

    By Kumi Naidoo

    The enforced disappearance and killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, shows just how brazen the Saudi authorities have become in crushing dissent.

    When Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist and political commentator, entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul to obtain personal documents earlier this month, he likely knew how dangerous it could be.

    Picking up documents from your consulate should not carry a risk to your life. However, given that Khashoggi was forced into self-exile following a wave of arrests targeting journalists, academics and activists last year, he likely knew that it would carry some risk. Saudi Arabia has now admitted that Khashoggi was killed at its Consulate.   

    This op-ed originally appeared on CNN and can be read in full here. 

    October 22, 2018

    By Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada

    Even as the truth about how Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 remains elusive, there is one vital lesson that Canada and the entire international community must already take to heart.

    The days of governments around the world enabling, ignoring, excusing or – at best – crying crocodile tears about Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human-rights record must at long last come to an end.

    Why is it that this particular case – the killing of one outspoken journalist, a critic of the Saudi regime, admittedly with a massive following in both social and traditional media – has been such a catalyzing moment that has gripped world attention for over two weeks now?

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