Saudi Arabia Wants The Death Penalty for Detained Human Rights Activists

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Saudi Arabia has revealed it is seeking the death penalty for five human rights activists currently on trial in the Kingdom on terrorism related charges according to Saudi’s public prosecutor.

Human Rights Watch, HRW an international human rights organisation has condemned the move which could see Israa al-Ghomgham a female rights activist become the first woman to face capital punishment for human rights-related work.

Human Rights Watch had issued a statement condemning the charges and reiterating that the charges against the accused activists do not resemble recogniseable crimes and include incitement to protest, chanting slogans hostile to the regime as well as providing moral support to rioters.

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Saudi Arabia had detained the five activists alongside one other person who is not facing the death penalty for more than two years without any legal representation.

Reacting to the news of an imminent death penalty hanging on the accused, the Middle-east director of the HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson said;

“Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behaviour, is monstrous.”

A prominent activist, al-Ghomgham documented mass demonstrations in the kingdom’s Eastern Province from 2011, before being arrested along with her husband in 2015.

Ghomgham and the other activists are being tried by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) set up in 2008 to try terrorism cases and has since been used to prosecute peaceful dissidents, according to HRW.

Saudi Arabia practices a deeply conservative absolute monarchy where public protests and political parties are banned although the Kingdom has enacted several high-profile social and economic reforms since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in June 2017.

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