Saudi authorities execute four men for participating in protests

Peaceful Assembly

According to the Association for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), on 11th July 2017 the Saudi authorities executed four men who had been arrested and detained because of their participation in protests. Yusuf Al-Msheikhass, Amjad Al-Muaybed, Zuhair Al-Basri and Mahdi Al-Sayegh had faced charges that included protesting and participating in riots as well as other terror-related charges. According to ADHRB, “the men were arrested solely in relation to their participation in protests as they were exercising their internationally-sanctioned right to freedom of assembly and association”. 

Furthermore, Amnesty International reported that on 23rd July 2017, the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court upheld the decision to sentence fourteen men to death for their participation in protests. The men had been sentenced to death in June 2016 after being charged with crimes related to their participation in protests. Their trial was reported as being unfair. According to Amnesty, court documents showed that the protesters told the court that they had been subjected to prolonged pre-trial detention and had been tortured and ill-treated during their interrogation to obtain their “confessions”. 

Association

In a statement released on 30th June 2017, Amnesty International called upon Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, to use his authority and release human rights defenders and activists. The statement explicitly requests the authorities 

“to end the repression of human rights defenders and immediately and unconditionally release and ensure the convictions of all prisoners of conscience are quashed including, Mohammad al-Qahtani, Abdullah al-Hamid, Fowzan alHarbi, Abdulkareem al-Khoder, Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Sheikh Suliaman al-Rashudi, Saleh al-Ashwan, Issa al-Nukheifi, Essam Koshak, Raif Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, Alaa Brinji, Issa al-Nukheifi, Mohammed al-Otaibi, Nazeer al-Majed, Ashraf Fayadh, Fadhel al-Manasif, Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amr and Ali Shaaban”.

However, the Saudi authorities have continued to target human rights defenders, activists and bloggers over the last few months. According to Gulf Centre for human Rights (GCHR), human rights defender Mohammed Abdullah Al-Otaibi is being held incommunicado in the city of Al-Damam. As previously reported by the CIVICUS Monitor, Al-Otaibi had been deported from Qatar to Saudi Arabia in March 2017. The charges against him include working in an unlicensed society, signing and publishing statements, and practicing human rights activities. He remains in detention awaiting an investigation.

In a separate and positive development, GCHR reported that on 31st July 2017, Saudi woman human rights defender Mariam Al-Otaibi was released from prison after being held for more than 100 days. As featured on the Monitor, Al-Otaibi was involved in the #IAmMyOwnGuardian campaign and was arrested on 19th April 2017 after her father filed a complaint against her for being absent from the house, using the guardianship system to justify his complaint. She is among several women, including Dina Ali Lasloom and Alaa Alanzi,arrested in April for their involvement in the campaign and for violating the rules of the guardianship system. However, there is no current information available on the status of Dina Ali Lasloom, who was arrested on 13th April after she was deported from the Philippines. 

Expression

Human rights organisations have renewed calls for the Saudi authorities to release blogger Raif Badawi on the fifth anniversary of his arrest. Badawi has been detained since 17th June 2012 on charges of “insulting Islam through electronic channels” and “going beyond the realm of obedience”. In a statement, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain declared:

"As today marks the fifth anniversary of Badawi’s imprisonment, it is clear that the international community must continue to do more. Although there has been progress, Badawi has already served half of his unjust sentence. Saudi Arabia’s key allies, like the US, must make it clear that they will no longer tolerate the suppression of free expression and the arbitrary imprisonment of activists like Raif Badawi".