Saudi rights abuses up since 9/11

2009-07-22 14:12
 London - Human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia have soared as a result of counter-terrorism measures introduced since the 2001 attacks in the United States, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The London-based rights organisation warned in a new report that under the guise of national security, thousands of people had been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy and others had been killed in "uncertain circumstances".

There have long been human rights problems in the kingdom but Amnesty said the number of people being held arbitrarily, including both Saudi nationals and foreigners, "has risen from hundreds to thousands since 2001".

"These unjust anti-terrorism measures have made an already dire human rights situation worse," said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme.

Amnesty noted that in June 2007, the Saudi interior ministry reported that 9 000 security suspects had been detained between 2003 and 2007 and that 3 106 of these were still being held.

Prisoners of conscience

Some of those held are prisoners of conscience, targeted for their criticism of government policies, the report said.

The majority are suspected of supporting Islamist groups that are opposed to Saudi Arabia's close links to the United States and have carried out a number of attacks targeting Westerners and others.

Amnesty said trials of people suspected of terrorism offences are carried out in secret, despite sentences ranging from fines to the death penalty. The names of those involved or the charges against them are not disclosed.

"Detainees are held with no idea of what is going to happen to them," Smart said. "Most are held incommunicado for years without trial, and are denied access to lawyers and the courts to challenge the legality of their detention."

He accused the international community of failing to hold the Saudi government to account over the alleged violations, saying the kingdom "has used its powerful international clout to get away with it".

Amnesty also reported that many people are thought to have been tortured "in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction".

Methods include severe beatings by sticks, suspension from the ceiling and the use of electric shocks and sleep deprivation, while "flogging is also imposed as a legal punishment by itself or in addition to imprisonment".

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  saudi arabia

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.