Friday, January 13, 2017

UN Human Rights Council Member Imprisons Human Rights Advocates

Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN Human Rights Council (that's not a joke), continues to imprison Human rights advocates, according to reports from HRW and Amnesty International. The latest string of thought crime prosecutions comes only a few months after Saudi Arabia was allowed to keep its seat on the UN Human rights council. Some of those arrested for speaking out against human rights abuses have been sentenced to death.
On January 10th, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, a human rights defender and a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), a now disbanded independent human rights organization, appeared before the Specialized Criminal Court which deals with counterterrorism cases. He was sentenced again to eight years in prison in connection with his human rights work. He had faced a number of different charges including “communicating with foreign organizations” and providing information to Amnesty International for use in two of its reports. Every other member of ACPRA has been prosecuted or jailed.
On 8 January, Essam Koshak, a human rights defender,was summoned for interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mecca around 5pm local time. He immediately went to al-Mansour police station but was detained and never made it back home. Amnesty International has learned that Essam Koshak was not allowed to appoint a lawyer and is being questioned about his Twitter account, which he mainly used to tweet about human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. 
On 5 January Ahmed al-Mushaikhass, a founding member of the Adala Centre for Human Rights, an independent human rights organization which was not permitted to register in Saudi Arabia, received a phone call from the CID asking him to report to al-Qatif police station for questioning. On 8 January he was transferred to al-Dammam police station where he remains in custody. He has been under interrogation by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) since then. Ahmed al-Mushaikhass is a human rights defender known for his work including helping families and relatives of those detained in the Eastern Province to raise their cases with the authorities. His brother, Yussuf al-Mushaikhass, was sentenced to death in January 2016 after taking part in protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and is at risk of being executed at any time.

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