The United Nations torture committee has condemned Saudi Arabia’s torture program, calling on the Saudi regime to stop imposing physical punishments, including flogging and amputations, in order to extract fake confessions from prisoners.
The UN says it is concerned with the abuse of bloggers, activists and human rights lawyers who are facing a hellish experience at the hands of the brutal Saudi regime in their prison system.
“Has Saudi Arabia taken steps to prohibit… corporal punishments, such as flogging and amputation of limbs, which are in breach of the convention?” committee member Felice Gaer asked Saudi officials.
She pointed to the case of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old Saudi blogger who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his writings on the internet, which Saudi authorities described as an affront to Islam. Imprisoned since 2012, Badawi received his first 50 lashes in a public square in the Saudi city of Jeddah in January 2015.
“We are aware of many people belonging to or who actually created human rights organizations have been deprived of their liberty, and sometimes charged and even sentenced to lengthy jail terms,” Gaer said. “This casts a pall over the review.”
The committee generally examines countries every five years or so, but it could not do so for Saudi Arabia because Riyadh’s report on its compliance with the Convention against Torture was already four years overdue.
The UN report follows a recent visit to the kingdom by US President Barack Obama, who raised concerns about human rights violations in the country.
Riyadh has long been under fire at the international level for its grim human rights record.
The kingdom reportedly executed 153 individuals, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. Amnesty International said in a report last year that court proceedings in Saudi Arabia “fall far short” of global norms of fairness.