SAUDI VISIT TO UNITED KINGDOM: STRAW SHOULD RAISE RIYADH INJUSTICE WITH GOVERNOR

The Saudi Prince, currently in Britain for an eight-day visit that includes meetings with Tony Blair, Robin Cook and John Prescott and engagements with the Queen and Prince Charles, is governor of the region that includes the capital Riyadh and as such has considerable influence over the regional justice system.

Amnesty International Director Kate Allen said:

'Both Saudi nationals and foreign migrant workers suffer dreadful human rights abuses in the Saudi judicial system.

'Mr Straw should inform Prince Salman that Saudi Arabia should end secret trials , thoroughly reform its judicial procedures and thereby improve the Kingdom's reputation while safeguarding the rights of countless people.'

Amnesty International is currently campaigning to draw international attention to gross human rights abuses committed within an unjust and highly secretive Saudi justice system. These include endemic use of torture, summary and secret trial proceedings – some leading to capital punishment, few safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention, no access to a lawyer and family upon detention, the use of confessions extracted under duress as sole evidence for conviction, denial of defence by lawyers and the absence of meaningful appeal.

Some human rights abuses in Riyadh known to Amnesty International:

· Executions Of the 62 people reported executed so far this year, at least 16 were executed in the Riyadh region. Most recently five Pakistani nationals were executed in Riyadh on 16 June.

· Amputations. Of the 27 recorded amputations this year at least five took place in the Riyadh region. These include three cross-amputations (right hand and left foot) carried out on Yemeni nationals for assault and theft on 13 February.

· Unlawful detention. Numerous examples of unlawful detention without trial in the Riyadh region include the cases of Sheikh Salman bin Fahd al-'Awda and Sheikh Safr 'Abd al-Rahman al-Hawali, both Sunni Muslims arrested in September 1994 for their political activities and kept in al-Ha'ir Prison in Riyadh. They were finally released in June 1999 without charge or trial.

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