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Political prisoners put on secret trials as Saudi officials try to cover up serious violations: Rights organization

In this file picture, Saudi men walk outside the General Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Reuters)

An independent human rights organization says Saudi officials bring imprisoned political dissidents and pro-democracy campaigners, who are deprived of family visits and meetings with attorneys, to secret trials in order to conceal grave violations committed against them.

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 many of the inmates stand secret trials, and receive arbitrary and unfair sentences based on confessions extracted under torture.

The organization highlighted that Saudi authorities grossly mistreat imprisoned dissidents in flagrant violation of international principles, which demand justice and transparency in the criminal procedure.

Sanad underlined that Saudi authorities must remedy their unfair policy toward the country’s prisoners of conscience, and respect human rights.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens 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 Saudi scholars have been executed, women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured, and freedom of expression, association and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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