Saudi Arabia’s callous disregard for fundamental human rights of its citizens [DailyTimes] 24 Apr, 2019

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shown a callous disregard for the fundamental rights of 37 of its own citizens during the latest execution spree launched by the Kingdom.These Saudi nationals were executed on Tuesday for what the Saudi officials described were  “terrorism related crimes”.The men were executed “for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilize security”, a statement by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.The sentences were carried out in the capital city Riyadh, the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca, the central  province Qassim, and Eastern Province, home to the country’s Shia minority.This latest execution spree has once again brought to international prominence the Kingdom‘s poor record on human rights. The bodies of two of the executed men were publicly hung from a pole for several hours and this blatant lack of respect for the dignity of the deceased men has sparked controversy because of its grisly display . But for Saudi officials this process serves as a good deterrent for future.According to Amnesty International the families of the victims were not informed about the executions in advance and were shocked to learn of the news.Among those put to death was a young man who was convicted of a crime that took place while he was under the age of 18. Abdulkareem al-Hawaj – a young Shi’a man who was arrested at the age of 16 and was arrested and convicted of offences related to his involvement in anti-government protests. Under international law, the use of the death penalty against people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime is strictly prohibited.The majority of those executed were Shi’a men who are mostly based in the Kingdom‘s Eastern province  , including  11 men who were convicted of spying for Iran and sentenced to death after a trial widely viewed as unfair by international observers .Another 14  people were executed after being convicted of violent offences related to their participation in anti-government demonstrations in the Eastern province  between 2011 and 2012. Questions are now being raised by major international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human rights watch regarding the nature of these trials and the political motives behind executing people belonging to minority Shi’a community.These sham trials and public executions have made Saudi Arabia a violator of not just international legal standards but also shown the Kingdom‘s indifference towards guaranteeing fundamental rights to its own citizens, many of whom aren’t afforded access to a transparent legal process where they could plead their cases.

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