Terrorism Prosecutions in the Specialized “Court” of Saudi Arabia

  • Brittany BenowitzEmail author
  • Virginia Anderson


In addition to invoking states of emergency as an excuse to restrict fundamental human rights, states also resort to “specialized courts” with truncated due process rights in order to evade their legal obligation to ensure the right to a fair trial. While specialized courts can serve a legitimate function, those with irregular procedures are increasingly being used against activists and other government critics. Such courts are often established based on the pretext that they are needed to safely try terrorism suspects; in practice, however, the failure to adhere to due process makes it more likely that they will wrongfully convict innocent persons on the basis of unreliable evidence, such as forced confessions. In so doing, specialized courts can exacerbate the risk of radicalization and undermine public support for states’ counterterror efforts. The Specialized Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia is an example of the use of irregular procedures to persecute government critics and in so doing, the court has diverted resources from serious terrorism cases to spurious cases.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Bar Association Center for Human RightsWashington, DCUSA

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