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Amnesty concerned over Saudi incarceration, abusing activists

Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, James Lynch

Amnesty International has voiced concern over the imprisonment and abuse of peaceful human rights defenders and activists by the Saudi regime under the pretext of war on terror.

Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, James Lynch, warned that the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia had worsened significantly over the past year.

“More and more human rights defenders are being sentenced to years in prison under Saudi Arabia’s 2014 counter-terror law, while its allies shamelessly back the kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’,” Lynch said.

He added that dozens of prisoners of conscience remain in jail “at risk of suffering cruel punishments and ill-treatment for their peaceful activism.”

The remarks by Lynch came on the first anniversary of the public flogging of imprisoned Saudi blogger and human rights activist, Raif Badawi, for exercising his right to free expression.

The London-based rights group went on to say that Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was also imprisoned under Saudi Arabia’s so-called counter-terror law which was put in place in February 2014.

Members of Human rights NGO Amnesty International hold up portraits of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and Saudi human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu Alkhair as they demonstrate in front of the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Berlin, on January 8, 2016 to ask for their release. (AFP Photo)

This comes a week after Saudi Arabia announced execution of prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a long-time critic of the Al Saud regime. The cleric was one of 47 others, including a number of activists, who were executed on January 2.

The rights group also pointed to the Al Saud regime’s execution spree since last year, which saw at least 151 people executed between January and November 2015, the country’s highest toll since 1995.

Lynch slammed the kingdom for its “unfair trials” and death sentences which have been handed down “based solely on confessions” extracted under torture.

The nephew of Sheikh Nimr, Ali al-Nimr, and several other activists, who were imprisoned under the age of 18, have also received death sentences.

Riyadh has been under pressure over its violation of human rights and unfair detentions and punishments, shooting unarmed protesters and torturing suspects in recent years.

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