Saudi Arabia is known the world over as the oil behemoth and the leader of OPEC. The country is also known for horrendous human rights abuse cases. In this article, we will focus on the latter. From abuse of expat maids to cracking down on activists, here we have listed three of the worst human rights abuse cases in this country.
1. War Crimes in Yemen
With the growing threat of Shiite Iran growing economically and militarially and its proxy groups in Yemen gaining ground, the Saudi’s felt a need to respond. Being that Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, the Saudi’s, as well as all the Sunni Arab gulf states were worried that an Iranian led Shiite regime might become a reality in the southern Gulf area.
At one point in 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of Arab countries and attacked certain portions of Yemen where the Zaidi Shia Houthi rebels were concentrated and who had usurped the Sunni-based government of Yemen who was an ally of Saudi Arabia. This is when the Saudi’s decided to attack the them. International reports stated that the coalition forces led by this country used dangerous cluster bombs without paying heed to the death of innocent civilians that resulted from their use. Using cluster bombs near human settlements is considered a war crime.
Amnesty International had urged the western powers to enquire about the war crimes committed by the Saudi government that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. According to an estimate by the UN, the causalities of the attack was about 296 individuals, most of whom included innocent civilians.
2. Crackdown on Activists
Saudi Arabia vehemently cracks down on activists that criticize the country in any way. The government had put Ali al-Nimr on a death row for taking part in a protest against the Saudi government where he allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail. The crime was seen by the government as to justify a death sentence.
All prominent international defenders of human rights have been threatened, imprisoned or forced to leave the country. Since the 2014 anti-terror law has led to the imprisonment of many individuals, scores of people have been subsequently imprisoned after trials, many deemed unfair.
3. Crimes of the Diplomats
A number of cases of abuse by the Saudi diplomats have been exposed. A Saudi Prince has been accused of cocaine-fueled rage attacks and abusing domestic workers in the US where he had stated, ‘I am a prince and I do what I want’. Another case was of a Saudi diplomat who had kidnapped, raped, beaten and starved two maids in India. Also, one prince had raped an 11-year old girl in London. All of the Saudi officials had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna convention and they were cleared of the crimes by the local government.
Despite being a member of the UN Human Rights’ Council, Saudi Arabia has failed to check the gross human right abuse cases committed in the country. For instance, an alarmingly large number of executions are committed. About 45 individuals were executed in one day in 2016, which included a top Shia cleric, Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr from the Shia majority held Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Despite all this, the Kingdom is given immunity by the international community mostly due to economic reasons.