Allow immediate contact with human rights defender held incommunicado, urges UN expert: Saudi Arabia

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders said today that she is increasingly concerned about the health and life of imprisoned Saudi human rights defender Mohammad Al-Qahtani, who would be held incommunicado after his family filed an assault complaint against him. by inmates.

Al-Qahtani is a founding member of the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights, which was disbanded in 2013. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison that year for allegedly providing false information to outside sources, including United Nations human rights mechanisms.

“I am concerned by reports that his family has lost communication with Mohammad Al-Qahtani since October 23, 2022, after they filed a complaint of assault against him by other detainees”, said the Special Rapporteur on defenders Human Rights, Mary Lawlor. “I call on the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia to inform his family of his whereabouts and his current state of health, and to allow access for his family and lawyers.”

Al-Qahtani repeatedly protested mistreatment while serving his sentence at Al-Ha’ir Correctional Prison in Riyadh, and since May 2022 has complained of attacks by other prisoners . The prison authorities refused his transfer request.

The expert expressed grave concern about the use of incommunicado detention, as it represents a violation of detainees’ rights under international law. “Such methods raise serious concerns about the personal integrity of detainees, as they run an increased risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture when all contact with the outside world has been blocked.

The Special Rapporteur is in contact with the competent authorities regarding the case.

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