Amnesty human rights warning over Trump visit to Saudi Arabia

By agency reporter
May 22, 2017

Amnesty International USA has released a response to the news that President Trump has finalised an arms deal with Saudi Arabia during his trip to the country.

Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA communications director, said: “This deal has President Trump throwing gasoline on a house fire and locking the door on his way out. There is damning evidence that war crimes have been committed by the Saudi-led coalition and continuing to arm Saudi Arabia fuels serious human rights violations that are causing overwhelming civilian suffering in Yemen. President Trump finalizing this deal while simultaneously banning travel to the U.S. from Yemen is an unconscionable move.”

Amnesty International had  previously voiced concern about the absence of human rights on Trump’s Saudi agenda and on his foreign trip as a whole:

“The world will be watching as President Trump meets with leaders of other states with records of trampling on human rights in the name of national security. We fear this ‘new partnership’ could lay the foundation for further erosion of human rights in the region and far beyond,” said Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA executive director.

“President Trump will also meet with leaders of countries who are hosting huge numbers of refugees from Syria. They must use the opportunity to voice their concerns about Trump’s attempts to slam the door on people fleeing violence and persecution, and demand that the USA does its fair share to alleviate the global refugee crisis.”

In a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism concluded that Saudi Arabia had failed to take concrete steps to investigate possible war crimes committed by its own forces in the conflict in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the United States remains the biggest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International has documented a wide array of violations of international law by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, including the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The coalition has carried out relentless airstrikes, killing and injuring civilians and destroying civilian homes, property and infrastructure in indiscriminate attacks and attack on civilian objects. Several of these attacks, some of which amount to war crimes, used US. arms.

“The United States continues to fuel serious human rights violations that have caused devastating civilian suffering in Yemen, through arms transfers to Saudi Arabia” said Huang.

“There is damning evidence that war crimes have been committed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The United States must immediately halt all arms transfers to members of the coalition for use in Yemen and push for an independent and effective investigation into the numerous violations documented in this forgotten war.”

The UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism also concluded in May 2017 that the country’s terrorism laws did not comply with international standards, and that Saudi Arabia “must stop using counter-terrorism legislation against people peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.”

Amnesty International has documented a continuous and systematic crackdown by authorities in Saudi Arabia against human rights activists, dealing heavy blows to the last vestiges of the country’s embattled civil society. Activists are being detained and prosecuted, based on vague and overly broad charges using anti-terrorism legislation and laws designed to stifle peaceful criticism. Those detained, on trial or serving prison sentences include several members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, an independent human rights organisation formed in 2009, which the authorities closed down in 2013.

“The Saudi authorities shamelessly hide behind draconian counterterrorism laws to justify the convictions of peaceful human rights defenders. One by one, activists in Saudi Arabia are vanishing”, said Huang.

Other Gulf countries have also used the cover of security and counterterrorism to crack down on dissent. The government of Bahrain has continued to curtail freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, detaining prominent human rights defenders, stripping Bahrainis of their citizenship, violently cracking down on protests and dissolving opposition parties.

In the UAE, authorities arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association, detaining and prosecuting government critics, opponents and foreign nationals under criminal defamation and anti-terrorism laws. Enforced disappearances, unfair trials and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees are also common.

* Amnesty International USA https://www.amnestyusa.org/

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