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Saudi Arabia’s jailing of journalist violation of intl. law: Amnesty

27 March 2016 16:20



Amnesty International has criticized Saudi Arabia’s decision to jail a journalist to five years as a clear “violation of international law.”

Ala’a Brinji was sentenced to five years in jail earlier this week over charges that he has insulted the country’s rulers and incited public opinion on Twitter.

Amnesty said on Sunday that the ruling showed intolerance for the freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia.

Brinji worked for al-Bilad, al-Sharq, and Okaz newspapers.

The international rights group also said that the journalist was found guilty of insulting religious figures as well as accusing the country’s security officers of killing protesters in the town of Awamiyah in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, where peaceful protests have been going on for several years.

Brinji was also banned from traveling and was sentenced to a fine of 50,000 Saudi riyals (13,300 dollars), the London-based human rights organization further said based on information it said it received from a source in Saudi Arabia.

The journalist has been detained since May 2014. He is also accused of abandoning his Muslim faith, Amnesty added. The latest crime incurs the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, but he has not yet been convicted of such a charge because of a lack of evidence.

The Saudi regime has come under pressure over the past few years over sentences it hands down to activists, rights advocates and writers.

Human Rights Watch says Saudi Arabia is sentencing top reformists to lengthy jail terms on vague charges in violation of freedom of speech.

In February, an activist was given a 10-year prison sentence for using Twitter to call for protests against Saudi rulers. Last December, Zuhair Kutbi, another civil society activist and writer, was sentenced to four years in jail and banned from writing for 15 years for calling for political change in the country. In 2014, a court in the kingdom sentenced three lawyers to up to eight years in prison for criticizing the Justice Ministry on Twitter.

This as the kingdom has also been criticized for mistreating women. It is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The ban stems from a religious fatwa imposed by Wahhabi clerics. Women may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged for driving in Saudi Arabia.

The ongoing Saudi aggression against Yemen has also come under fire by various rights bodies across the globe. A UN panel said in a report in January that Saudi warplanes had carried out “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in Yemen, which is against international humanitarian law.

Moreover, Riyadh is also widely believed to be the main supporter of Takfiri terrorists wreaking havoc in the region, including in Iraq and Syria.

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