A secretive criminal court in Saudi Arabia is being used to silence critical voices including clerics and rights activists, in the name of the fight against terrorism, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The kingdom is frequently criticised by human rights advocates who accuse it of violently repressing opponents and activists, including feminists and the kingdom’s Shia minority.
Riyadh’s Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) was established in 2008 to handle terrorism-related cases but has been widely used to try political prisoners.
“The Saudi Arabian government exploits the SCC to create a false aura of legality around its abuse of the counter-terror law to silence its critics,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa regional director.
“Every stage of the SCC’s judicial process is tainted with human rights abuses, from the denial of access to a lawyer, to incommunicado detention, to convictions based solely on so-called ‘confessions’ extracted through torture.”
Saudi authorities were not reachable for comment, but the kingdom insists that its judicial system is independent.