The US State Department issued its annual report on the human rights situation in the world, which covers the practices of 200 countries with regard to respecting the rights of citizens and workers for the year 2020.
Saudi Arabia was one of the most prominent countries included in the report of 61 pages, all of which included human rights violations, such as unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention while targeting opponents at home and abroad, as well as providing a fertile environment for Saudi officials to escape punishment.
The report said that the most prominent of these violations were committed by the security forces, whether from the state security apparatus or affiliated with the ministries of defense and interior, all of which are directly affiliated with the Saudi monarch – King Salman Abdulaziz.
At the local level, the report said that the state carried out executions for “non-violent” crimes, in addition to the expansion of arbitrary arrests that were accompanied by enforced disappearance and brutal torture with the spread of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of political prisoners in inhuman detention centers that threatened their lives, as well as committing violations against the rights of workers and migrants.
The report added that the Saudi authorities have also expanded in imposing serious restrictions on freedom of expression, the press and the Internet, including threats of violence, unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, with censorship and banning of websites, as well as campaigns of intimidation of Saudi dissidents living abroad, such a Saad al-Jabri, whose two sons, Omar and Sara, were arrested to pressure him to return to Saudi Arabia.
The report indicated that the Saudi regime refuses in any way to allow any peaceful assembly, while imposing restrictions on freedom of movement, and not allowing citizens to peacefully choose their government through free and fair elections, in addition to imposing restrictions on workers’ freedom to form associations, including a ban of trade unions and collective bargaining.
As for women, despite lifting the ban on some of the previous restrictions, they still suffer from clear discrimination and racism, as well as the use of violence against female detainees in Saudi prisons, as happened with Loujain Al-Hathloul.
The report spoke of widespread impunity in Saudi Arabia, where there are many cases in which the government did not punish officials accused of committing human rights violations, which contributed to creating a fertile environment for the commission of crimes while ensuring impunity.
For example, in September, the Saudi judiciary issued a final verdict in the trial of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018, and all five defendants who had previously been sentenced to death were reduced to 20 years in prisonm after they obtained a pardon from the Khashoggi family, while prison sentences of three others were upheld, without revealing the identity of any of them.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions described it as a “mock trial of justice” and stated that high-ranking officials “who organized and carried out the execution of Jamal Khashoggi got their freedom from the start.”
The report includes dozens of cases and examples of brutal violations against human rights activists, including what happened with the Saudi citizen Abdul Rahim Al-Huwaiti, a son of the Al-Huwaitat tribe, who was shot dead by Saudi security forces on April 13, 2020 after he refused to implement the eviction decision and leave his home to make way for the city of Neom, for which thousands of Saudi citizens got evicted from their homes without receiving decent financial compensation.
The report mentioned another incident that embodies the government’s restriction on freedom of expression. On May 17, officers from the Saudi State Security Agency arrested an Internet activist “Amani Al-Zein” in Jeddah, and subjected her to enforced disappearance, after her intervention on the Internet with The Egyptian activist “Wael Ghoneim”, during which she utterd the word “the bonesaw”, in reference to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
The report also referred to another report issued by Human Rights Watch on August 13, accusing Saudi border guards of killing dozens of Ethiopian migrants in April while crossing the border from Yemen, fleeing Houthi forces that forcibly expelled the migrants.
Speaking about migrant workers, the report also spoke about the tragic detention conditions that hundreds of migrants who suffer in “Jizan” as one of the measures to prevent Corona, based on pictures published on the internet which showed the tragic reality of these immigrants, as they accumule in small rooms with no ventilation.
According to these workers, many of them died as a result of hunger, thirst, the spread of disease or due to heat stroke, and some of them committed suicide, such as a 16-year-old teenager.
Internationally, the report drew attention to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen due to the war, where Saudi Arabia continued air operations in Yemen throughout the year as a leader of a coalition that was formed to counter the Houthi takeover in 2014 of the Yemeni government institutions and facilities.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen resulted in civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure.
Hundreds of violations committed by the Saudi regime, against all groups without exception, women, children and the elderly, academics, human rights defenders and advocates, wars abroad, and repression at home, and despite this, international regimes continue to cooperate with this regime, forming a sheild for it to continue shedding more blood and restricting more freedoms.
Therefore, we confirm that such reports are clear indictment evidence showing the inportance of taking serious and decisive measures against those responsible for these crimes, in order to put an end to these increasing violations.