Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich Gulf country that has one of the worst human rights record in the world. Thousands of foreign workers suffer verbal or physical abuse at the hands of the employers. In addition, the country prosecutes activist who try to introduce reforms or raise voice against the human rights violations being carried out in the country.
The authorities discriminate women and minorities such as Shias both in public and in legal matters. They are offered limited access to the government services and discriminated when charges are brought against them in the courts.
Here we have listed 3 most serious human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia that have raised outcry in the international community.
1. Mistreatment of Foreign Workers
Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are abused under the ‘kafala’ system. The contracts prevent them to leave or change jobs without the permission of the employers. In the event they change jobs or try to leave the country, they have to pay heavy fines or serve jail term. Many of the detained workers complained that they were kept in overcrowded detention facilities and were physically abused by the guards.
Maids working in the country are subject to gross mistreatment and abuse by the Saudi owners. Reports have stated that they are sexually assaulted, convicted of wrong crimes, and even prevented from leaving the country. Some of the maids have even reported not being fed proper food by their owners.
2. Execution Spree
Saudi Arabia carries on a large number of executions every year. Around 350 people have been executed in the past three years. There have been as many as 47 executions in one day that also included the execution of a Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The teenage nephew of the cleric Ali al-Nimr was arrested as well for protesting against the death sentence and was awarded a death sentence. Scores of people have been executed on the charges of sorcery and witchcraft.
3. Imprisonment of Activists
The country has imprisoned a number activists for speaking out against the abuses being carried out in the country. The activists such as Dr. AbdulRahman al-Hamid, Dr. Abdulkareem al-Khoder, Issa al-Hamid, and Abdulaziz Al-Shubaily who had founded the now disbanded independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) were imprisoned, beaten and threatened into silence by the authority.
In the end, Saudi Arabia is a country rife with many human rights abuses. The foreign workers, women, and maids are subjected to gross inhuman acts that violates international human rights treaties. Despite the gross abuse of basic human rights in the country, the Kingdom remains a member of the UN human rights council.