Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is The ‘Freedom Alliance’ Holding Oily Hands With An Enemy?

The Islamic Problem’s Centre? - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is called "the land of the two holy mosques", a reference to Mecca and Medina, Islam's two holiest places and as such can perhaps be considered the ‘centre of Islam’.

Human rights in Saudi Arabia (Wikipedia)

“The situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia is generally considered to be very poor. Under the authoritarian rule of the Saudi royal family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enforced strict laws under a doctrine of Wahabism (a fundamentalist interpretation of sharia, Islamic religious law). Many basic freedoms as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights do not exist; it is alleged that capital punishment and other penalties are often given to suspected criminals without due process. Saudi Arabia has also come under fire for its oppression of religious and political minorities, torture of prisoners, and attitude toward foreign expatriates, homosexuality, and women”.

Amnesty International – Saudi Arabia and the Death Penalty (abridged and edited)

’Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world in both absolute numbers and per capita and has expanded the scope of the death penalty to cover a wide range of offences, including offences without lethal consequences. Saudi Arabia’s scope of the death penalty is so wide that it can apply to any act deemed by the government and the courts to amount to ''corruption on earth”. Scores of people are executed, after summary trials that offer them no opportunity to defend themselves and almost no protection against miscarriages of justice. Often, the first warning a prisoner has of their imminent death (by beheading) is when they are taken out of their cell in handcuffs on a Friday [the day of prayer] and taken to a public square and forced to kneel.’

‘Amnesty International does not know whether they are allowed to see a representative of their religious faith before they are executed, or whether an appropriate religious ceremony is conducted before, during or after death. What it does know, from testimonies given by former prisoners and relatives of the victims, is that foreign nationals are rarely if ever allowed to see their loved ones before they are executed and that remains cannot be shipped home (outside countries) for burial.’

A particularly unsavoury aspect of Saudi Arabian law is “the lack of safeguards to ensure that the death penalty is not imposed on anyone aged under 18 at the time of the offence. This defect remains despite Saudi Arabia's accession to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1996, which explicitly prohibits capital punishment for anyone aged under 18.” ‘It is noteworthy that the Islam-based regulations applicable in Saudi Arabia never impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons below the age of puberty,'' but it does not define when puberty is reached.’ That implies that it is likely perhaps that 12 to 17 year olds can and are being executed.

Amnesty International's recommendations for the Saudi Authorities to improve this situation apparently go unheeded.

Amnesty International’s advice to the rest of the world, should best not go unheeded

The scale and gravity of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia is untenable by any legal or moral standard. However, the responsibility for the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is not the government's alone. It is also the responsibility of the international community [all of us], which has failed to hold Saudi Arabia to account for its persistent violations of human rights.

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