Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Reuters

Human rights group Amnesty International has released a scathing report which levels harsh criticism against Saudi Arabia, accusing the Gulf Kingdom of failing to live up to its pledge to improve human rights.

That pledge was made in 2009 to the UN Human Rights Council, but Amnesty has slammed the government's broken promises as nothing but "hot air", claiming that in some cases, human rights abuses have actually gotten even worse since then.

Persecution of minorities, women and political dissidents are just some of the human rights violations documented in the 18 page report.

Saudi citizens who campaigned for improved human rights were subjected to "harsh repressive measures such as arbitrary arrests, detentions without charge or trial, unfair trials and travel bans," said the report, which added that "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment are practiced with impunity during arrests and in detention centres and prisons."

Far from improving its human rights records, the report claims that since 2011, the Saudi regime has mounted a "new wave of repression against civil society."

The report claimed that women campaigning for equal rights had particularly suffered from such government repression, and that "Saudi Arabian women are systematically discriminated against both in law and practice."

Discrimination against women is actually enshrined in Saudi Arabian law, the most high-profile example of which is the law prohibiting women from driving. That law has seen heightened opposition in recent months, as well as a string of arrests of women's rights campaigners for publicly flouting the ban.

The report also noted that the Gulf Kingdom has consistently ranked "as one of the top five executioners in the world, with executions taking place based on summary trials and 'confessions' extracted under torture."

Migrant workers and the country's Shia Muslim minority are also regularly subjected to particularly serious abuse, including a sometimes deadly tendency towards an "excessive use of force" by authorities.

The full text of the report can be viewed here.