Abdullah Al-Hamid (left), with fellow 2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates Waleed Abu Al-Khair (centre) and Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani (right). Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Ahmed al-Osaimi (Blurred from Original)

Saudi Arabia must end practice of enforced disappearances, we demand at UN Human Rights Council

News 19.09.2023

During the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Right Livelihood, ALQST for Human Rights and MENA Rights Group spoke out against the increasingly frequent practice of enforced disappearances in Saudi Arabia. 2018 Right Livelihood Laureate Mohammed al-Qahtani is one of many victims of this inhumane practice.

You can read the full statement here.

Al-Qahtani, one of Saudi Arabia’s foremost civil rights defenders, was supposed to be released from prison in November 2022 after serving a 10-year sentence on politically motivated charges. Instead, he became a victim of enforced disappearance.

He has now been missing, with no contact with his family, for 330 days. His enforced disappearance has taken place without any trial or access to legal counsel, with the state claiming al-Qahtani is in custody for undisclosed offences.

Enforced disappearances, Right Livelihood and our partners explained, extend beyond al-Qahtani. In 2020, the UN’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances found a troubling pattern of short and long-term enforced disappearances in Saudi Arabia, often accompanied by allegations of torture.

Saudi authorities have refused to provide a substantive response to these disturbing allegations. In our joint statement, we demanded that Saudi authorities stop persecuting peaceful activists, reveal the whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared and unconditionally release all detained human rights defenders.

However, the international community is also to blame. Many states continue to engage with Saudi Arabia, and in doing so, legitimise the country’s systemic abuse and repressive tactics. 

In response, we called on the Council to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights violations and to take immediate action to protect fundamental freedoms in Saudi Arabia.

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