Saudi Govt Accused of Using Judiciary to Silence Activists

Three prominent Saudi human rights activists are facing serious charges in a series of court cases that took place over the last few weeks. The latest of these cases was brought against Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), and someone who has been tirelessly working to promote human rights in the country and bravely criticizing government’s record on the subject. Al-Qahtani appeared in court in Riyadh earlier this week.

The public prosecutor accused him of eleven charges related to his activism. Here is a link to the public prosecutor’s memo (Arabic PDF); below is a translation of the charges against him:

  1. Attempting to plant the seeds of discord and strife, breaking allegiance to the ruler and his successor, questioning the integrity of and insulting state officials.
  2. Questioning the integrity and piety of the members of the Senior Ulema Council by – falsely – accusing it to be a tool that approves government policies in return for financial and moral support as in the case of forbidding street protests.
  3. Accusing Saudi judiciary in its regulations and applications of being unable to deliver justice for breaching the standards set by Islamic Sharia.
  4. Accusing Saudi judiciary of being unjust by allowing torture and accepting confessions extracted under duress.
  5. Accusing the Saudi regime – unfairly – of being a police state built on injustice and oppression veiled in religion, and using the judiciary to legitimize injustice to continue its systematic approach to violate human rights.
  6. Inciting public opinion by accusing security bodies and their senior officials of oppression, torture, assassination, enforced disappearances, and violating human rights.
  7. Antagonizing international organizations against the Kingdom, and instigating them to focus on criticizing the Kingdom’s civic, political, economical, social and cultural fundamentals.
  8. Co-founding an unlicensed organization and making it appear as a reality by which he attempts to oppose state policy, spread divisiveness and disunity, spread accusations against the state’s judiciary and executive institutions and senior officials of injustice and transgressions; engaging in specialities that affect others’ rights and freedoms and the encroachment upon the specialties of governmental and non-governmental organizations (Human Rights Commission, National Society for Human Rights) and participating in writing statements released by them and publishing it on the internet.
  9. Preparing, storing and sending what could affect general order which is punishable by Section 1 in Article 6 of the E-Crimes law.
  10. Describing the General Intelligence body [mabaheth] as illegal militias.
  11. Providing false information as true facts and delivering them to official international bodies (UN Human Rights Council) which includes statements he delivered to these international organizations about proceedings regarding suing individuals that he gave which contradicts the truth and reality documented in official papers.

The two other activists facing similar charges, but in separate court cases, all pressed by the same public prosecutor, are Abdullah al-Hamed and Waleed Abu Al-Khair. In a gesture of support, they both attended the court hearing when al-Qahtani was accused of the charges listed above.

He remains defiant. “History is being written here,” al-Qahtani reportedly told his son after the court hearing, surrounded by 30 activists who were there.

Amnesty International said the case against al-Qahtani is part of part of a crackdown on human rights activists in the country and that it should be thrown out of court.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities’ trial of Mohammad al-Qahtani is just one of a troubling string of court cases aimed at silencing the Kingdom’s human rights activists,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. The government must end its crackdown against activists, he said.

“This must come to an end and human rights defenders must be allowed to carry on their crucial work to expose human rights violations and call for justice and accountability.”

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12 thoughts on “Saudi Govt Accused of Using Judiciary to Silence Activists

  1. Judicial system in Saudi Arabia? There are men trained in zealot schools paid for by the same system that created and staffed the religious courts to serve and justify the system’s unjust policies. The presiding judges would be jobless since they are unemployable anywhere else.
    Dr. Al-Qahtani and his colleagues are true patriots. They are risking their lives to save their country from the destructive path the Saudi religious courts are taking it. The list of accusations mounted against Dr. Al-Qahtani by the government’s representative should be considered as a badge of honor because he and citizens like him are fighting for human dignity.

  2. Saudi Government are making propaganda with their human rights and that’s why they hate all real activists who say the true about them….In 2006, after a lot of international pressure, Saudi Government had opened the Saudi Human Rights Commission and also the Saudi National Society for Human Rights…!!!!….Unfortunately, the people who are working in those offices are paid monthly only to sit with a cup of coffee while reading newspapers and chatting with their friends. They don’t work at all…!!! They are only an image for the outside international world.

  3. General prosecutor: Aren’t you ashamed of yourself listing truth as accusations? Do you think it’s easy to continue to deceive the public?
    What I don’t understand is timing of these trials. Why now? Those activists have been out there for at least a couple of years. What has changed recently that led to this?

  4. Eman I came to the same conclusion as you whenbreading it. First, it is paradoxically comical that the allegations are indeed truth and such numbnuts make it all too clear how idiotic they are…

    Second, that looks like a very loving and happy family photo. I imagine pictures of the prosecutor’s family would probably be much like the Adams family falling into the category of abnormal.

    Third, who is running the show?

  5. Naif was running the show unopposed. Like the media, the judicial system represents people’s interest, but that of those who rule them.

    Sadly, given Crown Prince Salman’s close ties and unconditional support for the religious establishment, the judicial system will receive freer hand to render harsher sentences against those who are trying to humanize the system and save the country from the fast approaching conflict between the ruling autocratic and theocratic competing forces. Stay tuned.

  6. Yes. I know about the media. I was in training for brief period and my very first experience was one editorial which was blocked titled ‘too much testosterone on the roads’ that was five years ago. I thought nah screw that!

    Anyways, whoever is running the show might want to work on developing more of their heart chakra which is the ability to give and receive
    love.

    “If somebody is terribly bad, thank God that is not you. And if somebody is terribly good, thank God that you have seen something good, and that it could be you,too.” -Yogi Bhajan

    Men have been unjustly accused and thrown in jail simply because they follow principles and have integrity…such men have gone on to become great leaders. Let us never lose hope…look at Nelson Mandela and there are others…

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