UN concerned about Saudi intimidation of activists

UN concerned about Saudi intimidation of activists
Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:24:59

The United Nations’ human rights office has raised concerns over the treatment of a Saudi activist punished for advocating the constitutional monarchy in the kingdom.

“We are deeply concerned about the intimidation and sometimes prosecution of individuals in Saudi Arabia for exercising their right to freedom of expression,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday.

A closed-door court hearing last week reportedly sentenced Omar al-Saeed to four years in prison and 300 lashes, and banned him from leaving the kingdom for a further four years after his release.

“Charges against him included defaming the king, preparing, storing and transmitting material prejudicial to the public order, and disseminating defamatory information on the Internet, apparently in relation to a Tweet in which he reportedly advocated for a constitutional monarchy,” Shamdasani said.

The 23-year-old was also charged with membership of an unregistered organization, she added.

Shamdasani said that al-Saeed appeared to have been targeted because of his work on civil and political rights with the Saudi campaign group HASEM.

“We have received reports that several other members of HASEM and other activists have already been jailed in similar circumstances or are under investigation by the national security agency, Mabahith,” she said.

“We call on Saudi authorities to immediately release all those imprisoned for exercise of their fundamental human rights.”

Shamdasani noted that the reported treatment of al-Saeed suggested that his rights to due legal process may have been breached.

“The use of corporal punishment amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and can even amount to torture under international human rights law,” she added.

In October, the Amnesty International has censured Saudi Arabia for not addressing the “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom. Amnesty published a report saying a paper was submitted to the United Nation detailing “an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture, and other ill-treatment over the past four years,” ahead of a meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva on October 21.


string(871) "[{"id":"1487268","sort":"3139288","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/06/23/alalam_635076189728264678_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"HRW raps Saudi Arabia for jailing top activist"} ,{"id":"1499919","sort":"3139289","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/07/29/alalam_635107337678437963_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Saudi activist sentenced to 7 years in prison"} ,{"id":"1522080","sort":"3139290","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/10/03/alalam_635164383969226467_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Saudi regime holds activist for hosting political meet"} ,{"id":"1526505","sort":"3139291","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/10/21/alalam_635179390291440459_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Amnesty raps continued rights violation in Saudi Arabia"} ,{"id":"1529501","sort":"3139292","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/10/30/alalam_635187385823287068_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Saudi court hands rights lawyer jail sentence"} ]"