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Thousands Held Arbitrarily – increasing numbers in Detention Without Trial in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily, Dramatic Increase in Detention Without Trial  Human Rights Watch , 6 May 18, (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia is detaining thousands of people for more than six months, in some cases for over a decade, without referring them to courts for criminal proceedings. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general should promptly charge or release all criminal defendants and stop holding people arbitrarily.

Human Rights Watch analyzed data from a public online Interior Ministry database, which revealed that authorities have detained 2,305 people who are under investigation for more than six months without referring them to a judge. The number held for excessively long periods has apparently increased dramatically in recent years. A similar Human Rights Watch analysis in May 2014 revealed that only 293 people had been held under investigation for that period.

“If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“It seems that MBS’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”

Saudi Arabia’s use of arbitrary detention has faced increasing scrutiny since the November 4, 2017 mass arrest of 381 people on corruption allegations. The arrests raised human rights concerns and appeared to take place outside of any recognizable legal framework, with detainees forced to trade financial and business assets for their freedom.

…….Human Rights Watch analyzed the data on April 2, which was updated through March 31. Of the 5,314 people in the database, 3,380 had been held for over six months without a conviction or their “case file under judicial review,” including 2,949 for more than a year and 770 for over three years. The database indicated Saudi authorities were holding 2,305 people “under investigation” for more than six months, 1,875 for more than a year, and 251 for over three years.

Saudi authorities have held one Saudi citizen without a conviction since September 2003 and another “under investigation” since December 2006. Of the 251 held “under investigation” for over three years, 233 are Saudis.

“We’ve reverted to a Saudi version of Kafka when authorities detain citizens for over a decade without charge because they are ‘under investigation’,” Whitson said. “This effectively means that Saudi authorities can detain and jail anyone they want by claiming they are  investigating them, however endless the investigation.”………..

Extended detention without charge or trial or without an appearance before a judge is arbitrary, and violates both Saudi law and international human rights standards.

“Mohammad bin Salman’s promises to modernize and strengthen the rule of law mean very little when the authorities can lock away thousands of people for years and throw away the key,” Whitson said.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/06/saudi-arabia-thousands-held-arbitrarily

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May 28, 2018 - Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia

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