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human rights


Saudi Arabia faced international criticism following the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Nevertheless, authorities continued to arbitrarily detain peaceful activists and dissidents without trial for long periods, including ten prominent women’s rights activists detained after May 2018. Dozens of human rights defenders are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms. Authorities systematically discriminate against women and religious minorities. In 2018, Saudi Arabia carried out 148 executions, 59 for non-violent drug crimes. A Saudi-led coalition continued an airstrike campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen that included apparently unlawful strikes that killed civilians. 

- Human Rights Watch

The authorities severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Many human rights defenders and government critics, including women’s rights activists, were arbitrarily detained. The public prosecution called for the execution of Shi’a activists and religious clerics for expressing dissent. Many activists were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including under counter-terrorism legislation following grossly unfair trials before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). A Saudi Arabian journalist was extrajudicially executed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The authorities used the death penalty extensively, carrying out scores of executions for a range of crimes, including drug offenses. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common. Despite limited reforms, including allowing women to drive, women faced systematic discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence. Discrimination against the Shi’a minority remained entrenched. The authorities continued to arrest, detain and deport foreign workers to countries where they were at risk of human rights violations.

- Amnesty International

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