Thursday, 21 October 2021

Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for 5 human rights activists

Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Court/via Reuters

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against five human rights activists from the kingdom’s Eastern Province currently on trial in a secretive terrorism court, groups including Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Among the detainees is Israa al-Ghomgham, whom Saudi activists said was the first woman to possibly face the death penalty for rights-related work. Charges against her include incitement to protest and providing moral support to rioters.

“Any execution is appalling, but seeking the death penalty for activists like Israa al-Ghomgham, who are not even accused of violent behaviour, is monstrous,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said in a statement on Wednesday.

ALQST, a London-based Saudi rights group, reported the decision involving Ghomgham’s case earlier this week.

A government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Activists said the trial was ongoing, and denied social media reports that the detainees had already been executed.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy where public protests and political parties are banned, has enacted some high-profile social and economic reforms in recent years under powerful young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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