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Home / Reports / Saudi Arabia torturing, mistreating terror-related suspects, activists: UN

Saudi Arabia torturing, mistreating terror-related suspects, activists: UN

(Web Desk) – A new UN report has blasted Saudi Arabia for torturing those arrested on “terror-related” charges and persecuting those exercising free speech, saying reports of the kingdom’s so-called liberalization efforts are “completely wide of the mark.”

British lawyer Ben Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on anti-terrorism, concluded the report on Wednesday following a five-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

The UN report said there were “well documented reports of the use of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials against individuals accused of having committed acts of terrorism and the use of coerced confessions as sole or decisive evidence in their conviction.”

“Those who peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression are systematically persecuted in Saudi Arabia. Many languish in prison for years. Others have been executed after blatant miscarriages of justice,” it added.

The report also denounced “a culture of impunity” for Saudi officials who are guilty of acts of torture, saying, “Peaceful avenues for redress of grievances are foreclosed by the use of repressive measures to silence civil society.”

Emmerson complained that he had been repeatedly denied access to many prisons or prominent rights activists.

He further denounced Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s clampdown on pro-democracy campaigners and stressed that it is “a matter of shame for the UN that it allowed Saudi onto the UN human rights council” back in 2016.

“Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is undergoing the most ruthless crackdown on political dissent that the country has experienced in decades,” he said. “Just as the Kingdom is handing out the first driving licenses for women, it is locking up the very people who campaigned for this modest reform.”

“Reports that Saudi Arabia is liberalizing are completely wide of the mark. The last two years have seen an unprecedented concentration of executive power in the monarchy across every sphere of public life,” he pointed out.

“The judiciary has now been brought entirely under the control of the king, and lacks any semblance of independence from the executive,” he said. “Put simply, there is no separation of powers in Saudi Arabia, no freedom of expression, no free press, no effective trade unions and no functioning civil society.”

Bin Salman was appointed the first in line to the Saudi throne by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, last June.

Since then, he has engaged in a string of radical economic and social projects in a bid to portray himself as “reformist.” But those projects have been widely seen more about consolidating his personal power and less about bringing about real change to Saudi Arabia.

Last month, at least 10 prominent Saudi activists, mostly women’s rights campaigners, were taken into custody.

Hundreds of influential Saudi businessmen and members of the royal family were also rounded up in November 2017 in an alleged “anti-corruption campaign” spearheaded by bin Salman.

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