HRC42: Arbitrary Detention in Saudi Arabia

On the 13 September, during the 42nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Right Livelihood Foundation delivered a statement which called on the Council to draw its attention to the detention of Saudi activists including Right Livelihood Award Laureates Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammed al- Qahtani and Waleed Abulkhair. Read the Oral Statement below:

Camilla from the Foundation delivered the Oral Statement on behalf of the jailed Saudi Activist.
Camilla from the Foundation delivered the Oral Statement on behalf of the jailed Saudi activists.

In September 2015, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention rendered the opinion that the detention of Saudi activists and founding members of ACPRA, Mr Abdullah al-Hamid and Mr Mohammed al- Qahtani was arbitrary and therefore violated international human rights norms and standards. Both have been deprived of freedom since 2013 on activism-related charges.

The Working Group argued that their trials failed to observe basic standards of due process, and the charges brought up against them were based on the broad and imprecise application of the Saudi Arabian laws. It consequently requested the Saudi Government to take immediate steps to remedy the situation.

2019 also marked the 5th anniversary of the arbitrary detention of Mr Waleed Abulkhair. He is a prominent Saudi human rights defender and director of Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, who was also awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2018.

In April 2018, the Working Group rendered the opinion that the deprivation of liberty of Mr Abulkhair, not only clearly contradicted international human rights standards, but also that it was impossible to invoke any legal basis to justify it.

The Working Group was also of the view that Mr Abulkhair had been arrested, convicted and sentenced for the exercise of his rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and that the violations of the right to a fair trial and due process suffered by him were grave enough to give his deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character.

To date, however, Right Livelihood Award Laureates, Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammed al- Qahtani and Waleed Abulkhair are still in prison together with a growing number of men and women who have dared to call for democratic and human rights reforms in Saudi Arabia.

We would like to ask the Working Group how can we ensure the implementation of the Working Group’s decisions by States who systematically make use of arbitrary detention and other human rights violations as a working method to silence dissent?