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Rights org.: Saudi courts hand down death sentences to 15 political dissidents based on confessions under torture

This file picture shows a man kneeling before being beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

An international human rights organization says Saudi Arabia’s courts have convicted and sentenced more than a dozen anti-regime activists to death following unfair trials and based on confessions coerced through torture and ill-treatment.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said in a report that Saudi authorities have passed capital punishments against 15 more prisoners of conscience, bringing the number of people at the risk of immediate execution to 53, including at least eight minors.

Earlier this month, the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in the Arabian Peninsula (CDHRAP) warned about massive violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia as officials employ brutal forms of physical and mental torture against imprisoned political dissidents and activists, saying another mass execution could happen in the kingdom anytime soon.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) said in a statement that the so-called Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Riyadh has sentenced several more Saudi nationals to death, simply for the sake of expressing their opinions on social media platforms, participating in peaceful pro-democracy rallies or denouncing social discrimination.

The Beirut-based human rights organization went on to highlight that the issuance of such arbitrary rulings on numerous occasions proves the hollow nature of the House of Saud’s claims about respect for human rights.

CDHRAP said that Saudi Arabia is the kingdom of terror, and called on the international community and human rights institutions around the world to stop the looming mass execution, which could take place under false accusations and not based on legal criteria.

Since Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

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

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