Saturday, March 11, 2017

US State Department report on Saudi Arabia 2016 Human Rights

 Below is the respond from the ADHRB (Americans for Democracy and Human Rights for Bahrain) to the "Saudi Arabia 2016 Human Rights Report" from the US State Dept.

ADHRB Responds to State Department’s 2016 Saudi Arabia Human Rights Report

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) cautiously welcomes the United States Department of State’s Saudi 2016 Human Rights report. With several exceptions, the report addresses the numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by the Saudi government within the last year.

Released on 3 March 2017, the report addresses a number of thematic issue areas, including freedom of expression and assembly, detention, torture and unfair trials, executions, human rights defenders, and labor violations. The report describes the legal frameworks underpinning the myriad human rights abuses committed by the government. It illustrates how the Basic Law and Press and Publications Law in conjunction with regulatory agencies and ministerial bodies work to censor or close media outlets, while security forces detain bloggers and writers who criticize the government. It notes that the government prohibits protests and political gatherings, while also refusing to license political and social organizations. The country does not allow for the functioning of political or social civil society and closes organizations and jails activists who attempt to operate such organizations. Among the groups officials have forced to close are the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights, the Adala Center for Human Rights, al-Belady–a women’s civil society group–and the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

In addition to criminalizing critical expression and associations, the report notes that prisoners sometimes face unfair trials marred by torture and torture-coerced confessions. Among the detainees who were sentenced in trials that did not comply with international standards of due process and fair trials are Fadhil al-Manasif, Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher. In al-Nimr, al-Zaher, and al-Marhoon’s cases, the court refused to allow them access to their lawyers while they were detained and later admitted their coerced confessions as viable evidence in their trials. This evidence proved crucial in sentencing them to death.

While the State Department’s report highlights and discusses widespread human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, there are several significant issues with the report. In the report, the State Department states that, “There was one allegation that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings in the country.” However, ADHRB would like to call attention to the executions of four minors on 2 January 2016, Amin al-Ghamidi, Ali al-Ribh, Mustafa Abkar, and Mishaal al-Faraaj. The government arrested them while they were under the age of 18 and detained them incommunicado. Officials tortured them until they confessed to a number of crimes put to them by authorities. Throughout their detention, officials denied them the right to talk to their lawyers. During their court proceedings, the court and prosecution used their coerced confessions to convict them and sentence them to death. The nature of their arrests, detention, and trials violates international law and international standards of due process and fair trials, such that their executions resemble arbitrary or unlawful killings......

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