Rights organization urges UN to investigate serious human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia

This picture shows a general view of maximum-security al-Ha'ir Prison, located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Reuters)

An independent Swiss-based human rights organization has voiced serious concern about grave human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, calling on the United Nations to hold Saudi authorities to account over various forms of torture being perpetrated in the kingdom.

Alkarama, in a petition submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), stated that serious human rights violations have been committed in Saudi Arabia since 2016.

It stated that the body of independent experts, which monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties, should investigate human rights abuses in the kingdom.

It also called on the CAT to shed light on the fate of prominent human rights defenders like Saud Mukhtar al-Hashimi, Mohammed Abdullah al-Otaibi, Mohammed Mana Ahmad al-Qahtani and Waleed Sami Abulkhairm, who are being held behind bars despite international criticism.

Karama also called on the UN committee to hold the Saudi government to account for the plight of pro-democracy campaigners sentenced to life imprisonment.

The petition comes as the CAT has already compiled a list of issues that the Riyadh regime should address as part of the United Nations Convention against Torture during its third review.

The list reportedly would ensure a constructive dialogue with Saudi officials when the committee undertakes its next review, and invites the authorities to provide explanation for specific matters.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Last September, a human rights organization expressed serious concern about the deliberate medical negligence against political dissidents being kept in detention centers across Saudi Arabia.

Sanad human rights organization, which defends political and civil rights in Saudi Arabia and monitors human rights violations and exposes them to public opinion as well as international organizations, said that Saudi prison authorities deliberately deprive inmates of medical treatment as part of their policy of abusing and killing them silently.

While all governments are obliged under the international law to protect human beings against rights violations and ensure their freedom and dignity, the repressive policy of Saudi officials against jailed activists has significantly undermined such principles, Sanad noted.

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