Country Profile: Saudi Arabia
The state of human rights in Saudi Arabia continues to deteriorate as authorities have arbitrarily restricted the rights of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly; enacted a draconian new antiterrorism law; and arrested and imprisoned government critics, political opposition leaders, students, and professors. Detainees have faced torture and other mistreatment, and courts have handed down death and lengthy prison sentences after unfair mass trials. Additionally, people have been arrested and tried on charges of "debauchery" for their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and women and members of religious minorities have been subject to discrimination and inadequately protected against violence. All this has been done with a critical lack of accountability, and most human rights violations were committed with impunity.
In January 2020, Endangered Scholars Worldwide learned that the authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested about a dozen intellectuals and activists, and have increased their tactics of “intimidation” and “torture” against other detainees, as reported by the Saudi Human Rights group ALQST. According to the London-based organization, on November 16, 2020, the writers BADER AL RASHED, SULAIMAN AL SAIJAN AL NASER, UAAD AL MUHAYA, and MUSAB FUAD were arrested in the capital. According to the same report, the health of FAHAD AL-QAHTANI, a prominent Saudi economist who has been in jail since 2011, is deteriorating due to conditions in the Al-Ha’ir criminal prison in Riyadh.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide joins ALQST and other like-minded human rights organizations to call on the Saudi government to end the imprisonment and mistreatment of Al-Qahtani and other human rights defenders on account of their peaceful work, including ALI ABDULLAH AL-HAJI, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, who was arrested along with 31 others in March 2016 on charges of spying for Iran. Others accused include a student at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University and an academician who held the job of “development researcher” at the Ministry of Education for more than 25 years. Endangered Scholars Worldwide has still been unable to obtain the names of the latter two defendants.
Scholars and researchers who remain in prison include ABDUL KAREEM YOUSEF AL-KHODER, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Qassim University who was convicted on charges of inciting to breach public order, create chaos, and prejudice security and public peace; insulting the judiciary; describing the regime as a police state; and participating in unauthorized associations; and SA’UD MUKHTAR AL-HASHIMI, a faculty member at the King Abdulaziz University, who was sentenced in November 2011 to 30 years in prison.
(Last updated: April 5, 2021)
Please send appeals to the following:
Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 403 0645
Walid bin Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Samaani
Minister of Justice
PO Box 58889, Bldg. 373
King Fahad Road
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 4612061
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