Saudi Arabia: Abduallah Al-Nuaimy, former Guantanamo detainee, held for 13 months without trial

Abdullah Al-Nuaimy
The arbitrary detention of former Guantanamo detainees in Saudi Arabia has now reached international notoriety - opposition campaigns linked to these types of arbitrary detentions and disappearances are growing across the Gulf region. The reality is that the Saudi's current detention program is simply an extension of their counterterrorism policy set in motion in 2003 and instigated by the US. Take for example the recent case of former Guantanamo Bay prison detainee and founder of the support "Committee for Guantanamo detainees", Abdullah Al-Nuaimy. A Bahraini national, he is currently detained in Dammam Prison following his arrest and disappearance from the King Fahd Causeway, while crossing the Bahrain-Saudi border in late October 2008. Despite having been released from Guantanamo in November 2005, he is now detained in his neighboring country due to his work in trying to release those still detained in Guantanamo.

In July 2009, the Saudi authorities announced having convicted more than 300 on terrorism charges, in trials, which sources claim, were unfair and held in secret. With the United States and the United Kingdom having publicly applauded the Saudi counterterrorism "religious reeducation program" for Guantanamo returnees, it is hard to believe that neither party is yet to condemn the indefinite detention of thousands of people who remain in prisons throughout Saudi Arabia.

As far back as 30 January 2009, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID) regarding Abdullah Madjed Sayah Al-Nuaimy's disappearance - despite this urgent plea the Saudi authorities have still made no effort either to release Mr Al-Nuaimy or present him to the competent judicial authority. According to information leaked from inside Saudi Arabia, Mr Al-Nuaimy, now 26, reappeared in Dammam prison in April 2009.

In the 13 months of his arbitrary detention, Abdullah Al-Nuaimy has never been presented before a judge, magistrate, nor been the object of any legal procedure; in addition, he has never been informed of the reasons for his arrest and detention.

Subsequently, Alkarama submitted today Abullah Al-Nuaimy's case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary detention (WGAD). This type of a detention is commonplace in Saudi Arabia and is in blatant contradiction with the norms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and of the domestic law of Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah Al-Nuaimy's arbitrary detention is a clear continuation of the Saudi authorities' disregard of the standards by which they are bound under international human rights law - and it comes as another blow to the already fragile situation regarding the future of the current Guantanamo detainees, its former detainees, and those looking for its closure and ultimately justice.

Guantanamo Bay and President Obama's promise

The support campaign for former and current detainees of Guantanamo Bay prison has been gathering steadfast support not only across the Arab world but amongst the international community. With US President Barack Obama having signed, on 22 January 2009, an executive order committing to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center by January 2010, a dubious trust has now been placed in the system which is still trying to shed the weight of on-going investigations into human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay prison.

As the echoes of US President Obama's pledge continue to reverberate, former detainees continue to mobilize in an international effort to make this closure a reality. Despite their coordinated efforts, the chances of the deadline being met look slim. With the recent resignation of Philip Carter, the US Defense Department official in charge of closing Guantanamo Bay prison, on 24 November 2009 and with the US administration looking at the possibility of holding some of the Guantanamo detainees in a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Illinois - the hopes of a positive outcome look bleak.