Saudi Arabia: Detained Yemeni pilgrim Mahmood Al Broushi victim of unfair trial


Mr. Mahmood Hamid Qaid AL BROUSHI, a young Yemeni detained in Saudi Arabia, is still being held in Dhahban prison in Jeddah and is denied any contact with the outside world, was informed Alkarama from its sources. 

Mr. AL BROUSHI is one of the four Yemenis arrested in April 2022, during their trip to the Holy Land to perform Umrah after they obtained visas from Saudi Arabia. His case was referred to the UN Special Procedures by Alkarama in May 2023. While three of them returned to Sana'a after they were released in June 2023, Mr. AL BROUSHI remained in arbitrary detention. 

According to information obtained by Alkarama, Mr. AL BROUSHI was brought to trial in mid-September 2023 before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on charges of belonging to the Houthi group, which calls itself "Ansar Allah", providing support to it and committing cybercrimes without disclosing further details. While Mr. AL BROUSHI was not allowed to obtain a copy of the indictment, he was only brought to court in Riyadh to attend the session and then returned back to Dhahban prison. 

Mr. AL BROUSHI’s last session was held on 8 November 2023. However, the following session was postponed three times until 4th March. 

Background to the case 

Mr. Abdullah Moqbel Zayed AL OSIMI, Mr. Hemyar Abdullah Moqbel AL OSIMI, Mr. Mahmood Hamid Qaid AL BROUSHI and Mr. Arhan Moqbel Zayed Moqbel HAMAEELAH were all granted official visas to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

On 23 April 2022, while on their way to Mecca, five police cars suddenly stopped their vehicle in the Aqbat in Al-Hada area of Taif governorate. No explanation was provided for their arrest and no arrest warrant was notified. They were taken to al-Faisaliyah police station, where they were told they were suspected of belonging to the Houthi group. 

After 38 days of incommunicado detention, during which they were subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, they were transferred on 30 May 2022 to  Al-Masara Central  Prison in  Taif before being transferred to Dhahban Prison in Jeddah on 22 June 2022. The victims were only allowed to contact their families after arriving at al-Masara Central Prison in Taif. The four men only received their first family visit at Jeddah's Dhahban prison. 

UN Special Procedures contacted by Alkarama 

Mandated by the families, Alkarama contacted the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Special Rapporteurs on torture and freedom of belief to urge Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release the four victims. 

Three of them were released, while the fourth (Mahmood Hamid Qaid AL BROUSHI) remains arbitrarily detained. He has been denied access to his family for more than a year. Only one of his relative was able to visit him at the end of December 2023. 

Increasing arrests of pilgrims during Umrah 

Alkarama is particularly concerned about the repeated arrests of pilgrims in recent years. 

Lastly, Saudi police arrested two Chinese pilgrims of Uighur origin, Mr. Aimidoula WAILI and Mr. Nuermaimaiti RUZE, living in Istanbul, Turkey. Their families did not receive any news since their transfer to Riyadh in March 2023. Alkarama therefore launched an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances on 10 May 2023, to clarify their fate. 

Alkarama reiterates the need to respect religious freedom and the safety of pilgrimages to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia and will not hesitate to raise this issue before the various UN human rights bodies and procedures.