(Photo Credit: Reuters)
According to a report by the US-based organization DAWN, Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) prosecuted 10 former judges on charges of “high treason” and “terrorism” on 27 February.
High treason in Saudi Arabia constitutes the death penalty as a punishment. These judges were reportedly responsible for issuing sentences against several male and female activists years prior and were tried in their first secret session on 16 February.
Abdullah Alaud, the Gulf director at DAWN, remarked that these drastic charges against the judges illustrate the notion that “no one is safe in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the prosecution of the former judges is “emblematic of the Crown Prince’s wider purges within the country and his attempts to make the judiciary subservient solely to his wishes.”
According to local reports, six of the 10 former SCC judges were arrested by the Saudi authorities in April 2022. Two of the judges – Abdullah bin Khaled al-Luhaidan and Abdulaziz bin Madawi al-Jaber – were accused of severe human rights violations, including the execution of a minor and several women’s rights defenders. The judges were also complicit in one of the largest mass executions in the kingdom since 1980 – 81 people were executed in March of last year on charges of alleged terrorism-related activities, many of whom were a part of Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) is prominently known for his brutality against individuals who voice concerns or criticize any aspect of the kingdom.
Earlier this month, the SCC detained 47 members of the Howeitat tribe in Saudi Arabia on charges of resisting eviction from the area where the NEOM megacity is being constructed.
Around 15 members of the tribe have already been sentenced to 15-50 years in prison, eight have been released from detention, and 19 others are currently detained while awaiting a verdict.
The SCC sentenced three members of the tribe to death in October 2022. During the first half of 2022, Saudi Arabia executed 120 people, a number higher than that of 2020 and 2021 combined.