UN accuses Saudi Arabia of using terror law for violating free speech

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson has accused Saudi Arabia for suppressing free expression and failing to carry out independent inquiries into its Yemen bombing campaign.

In a report published after his five day visit to Saudi Arabia,, Emmerson said, "I have received numerous reports about prosecution on the basis of the 2014 counter-terrorism law. I strongly condemn the use of counter-terrorism legislation and penal sanctions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, "religion, or association."

He said Saudi officials refused to grant him access to the prisoners that the UN believes are being wrongly held under anti-terror laws.

He urged Saudi Arabia to create an independent review mechanism to examine cases of people jailed for exercising such rights "and to commute or pardon all such prisoners with immediate effect."

He said Saudi anti-terror laws are contrary to basic international human rights standards and "enable the criminalization of a wide spectrum of acts of peaceful expression under the pretext of maintaining national unity.

Raising the issue of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces in Yemen, Emmerson reminded Saudi Arabia that it has an international legal obligation to conduct a probe "independent of the chain of command" in every case where civilians are reliably believed to have been killed or wounded. (ANI)
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