Saudi Arabia: 14 protesters facing execution...
Saudi Arabia should immediately quash the death sentences of 14 members of the Shia community for protest-related crimes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said. The Court of Appeal of the notorious Specialized Criminal Court upheld the sentences in May, after they were handed down a year ago on June 1, 2016 following a grossly unfair trial of 24 Saudi Shia citizens. The Specialized Criminal Court is Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism tribunal.
“The rise in death sentences against Saudi Arabian Shia is alarming and suggests that the authorities are using the death penalty to settle scores and crush dissent under the guise of combating ‘terrorism’ and maintaining national security,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
On May 25, the families of three of the defendants learned in a phone call that the Court of Appeal of the Specialized Criminal Court had upheld the death sentences against their relatives. The family members of another two defendants subsequently called the court, on May 28, and were informed that the sentences for their relatives and for the whole group of 14 had been upheld on appeal. The exact date of the appeal court’s decision is unknown.
Court documents show that all defendants, including the 14 sentenced to death, were held in pre-trial detention for more than two years before their trial began. During that time most were in solitary confinement and Saudi Arabian authorities denied them access to their families and lawyers while they interrogated them.
Since 2013, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have recorded a worrying increase in death sentences against political dissidents in Saudi Arabia, including the Shia Muslim minority. The organizations are aware of at least 38 members of Saudi Arabia’s Shia community – who make up 10 to 15 percent of the population -- currently sentenced to death. Saudi Arabian authorities accused these individuals of activities deemed a risk to national security and sentenced them to death after deeply flawed legal proceedings at the Specialized Criminal Court.
This is a summary of the report, for details go to: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/06/saudi-arabia-14-protesters-facing-execution-after-unfair-trials/