Saudi activist sentenced to nine years in prison
Amnesty International says a Saudi human rights activist has been sentenced to nine years in prison on charges related to his civil rights activities.
The London-based rights organization said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court passed the ruling on Issa al-Hamid, adding that he is also banned from foreign trips for another nine years.
Al-Hamid is a senior member of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM). The court found him guilty of instigating people to violate public order, insulting the judiciary, defaming a number of senior religious figures and establishing an unlicensed organization.
Amnesty said the court ruling was part of a wider “ruthless onslaught against civil society” by officials in Saudi Arabia.
Several members of HASEM are also serving similar prison sentences.
Riyadh has long been under fire at the international level for its grim human rights record.
On Friday, the UN torture committee called on Riyadh to stop physical punishment and abuse of bloggers, activists and human rights lawyers in Saudi prisons.
Felice Gaer, a committee member, said a “significant number” of suspects had been tortured into making confessions by the Saudi regime.
In January, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa James Lynch said the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia had worsened significantly over the past year.
“More and more human rights defenders are being sentenced to years in prison under Saudi Arabia’s 2014 counter-terror law, while its allies shamelessly back the kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’,” he said.