Saudi Arabia executes its own citizens with impunity. It is abhorrent that the UK will not label it a pariah state

The next G20 summit is in Riyadh in 2020. The international community must end its indifference to Saudi’s flagrant abuse of human rights and refuse to attend

Helena Kennedy
The Independent Voices

On Sunday 28 July, the day before releasing a report on the illegal use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, the prominent progressive Saudi cleric Salman Al-Awdah was due to appear in a secret court with no legal team, to hear the judgement about the death penalty in his case.

He was detained in 2017 after tweeting that he hoped the standoff between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be resolved peacefully. He has been held in appalling conditions ever since. Among the 37 charges being brought against him is “mocking the government’s achievements” – whether or not this is even true, it is certainly not a crime punishable by death.

Although his hearing has now been postponed until November, the systematic abuse of his human rights, including his right to a fair trial, continues unabated. If the Saudi authorities end up executing him, his case would be an alarming example of how the death penalty is used to silence any criticism in Saudi Arabia. It is unfortunately not the exception but rather the norm.

Mujtaba al-Sweikat, who was executed earlier this year, was only a teenager when Saudi secret police arrested him for protest-related offences. For three years he was held without charge. He was denied any legal assistance and was regularly beaten, burnt with cigarettes, and flogged on the soles of his feet.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) is welcomed by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday (Reuters photo)

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