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Saudi Arabia's Double Standard on International Justice

Published: February 19, 2019
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Source: Who What Why

Originally published at WhoWhatWhy.org

In August 2018, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh, halted direct flights to Toronto, suspended new trade deals, and threatened to relocate thousands of Saudis studying in Canada.

The diplomatic fallout was all because Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted her concern for a Saudi activist, Samar Badawi, who was arrested for her human rights advocacy in the Kingdom.

The social media post, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in response, was an “overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom” and violated “the most basic international norms.”

However, even a surface-level examination of the Kingdom’s judicial practices show that the escalation was steeped in hypocrisy — especially in light of recent reports that exposed systematic and extraordinary efforts by the Saudis to subvert the rule of law in other countries.

Vanishing tricks

Flagrant interference in justice abroad was uncovered most recently by the Oregonian, a Portland-based newspaper that reported on several Saudi students disappearing after committing serious crimes.

Most notable is the case of Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a Portland Community College student who was arrested for a hit-and-run that killed a 15-year-old girl in 2016. Noorah disappeared just weeks before his trial date after posting bail with $100,000 given directly to him by the Saudi consulate. Law enforcement officials believe that the 21-year-old was then aided in removing his ankle monitor and flown out of the country on a private plane by Saudi diplomats, according to the Oregonian.

In July 2018, the Saudi government confirmed to US authorities that Noorah had arrived back in the Kingdom in June 2017, seven days after disappearing, the Oregonian reported, citing the US Marshals Service.

Several other cases emerged in Oregon of Saudi nationals evading US justice. Ali Hussain Alhamoud, a student at Oregon State University, vanished after the Saudi government posted bail following his arrest for rape and other sex crimes in 2012, the Oregonianreported. An international arrest warrant was issued for Alhamoud by Interpol.  

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