Saudi Arabia: The enforced disappearance of Yemeni pilgrim Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM before the UN

Abdulrab GEHAM

On 12 September 2023, Alkarama urgently submitted the case of Yemeni citizen Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM, who was arrested on 12 April 2023 by Saudi security forces at the Al Wadea border crossing, to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearance

Disappeared following arrest 

Abdulrab Mansoor Moqbel Ahmed GEHAM had obtained an official visa to perform the "Umrah", religious pilgrimage to Mecca. 

On 19 July 2023, while travelling to Mecca with several other relatives, he was arrested by several members of the security forces at the Al Wadea border crossing. Without any explanation as to why he was arrested and without being served with an arrest warrant, he was forced into a vehicle before being driven to an unknown destination. 

Denial by Saudi Arabian authorities 

Following the disappearance of the victim, his father, who had also obtained a visa to make the religious pilgrimage, went to Saudi Arabia to search for his son. He first went to the Al Wadea border crossing where he learned that his son had been taken to the Najran Criminal Investigation Centre. 

However, the authorities at the center did not acknowledge his son's detention informing him that he had been transferred to a prison in Sharurah in Hadramawt province (Saudi border with Yemen). The father then approached the Attorney General of the Emirate of Najran without receiving a response. 

On 19 July 2023, the victim's family was contacted by one of their son's fellow prisoners released on the same day from Najran prison and told them that he was being held in the same prison. The father went there again a few days later, but the authorities did not explicitly acknowledge his detention. 

Faced with the authorities' denial, the victim's family mandated Alkarama to submit the pilgrim's situation to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. 

Alkarama referred to the Working Group 

On 12 September 2023, Alkarama urgently submitted the case of the Yemeni citizen to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances requesting that he be immediately located. 

Alkarama is now particularly concerned about the repeated arrests of pilgrims in recent years. Recently, Alkarama submitted the case of four other Yemeni pilgrims arrested by police on April 23, 2022 in the Taif region of southern Saudi Arabia under the pretext of being affiliated with the Houthi group in Yemen while on their way to "Umrah" (religious pilgrimage) in Mecca. While three of the four pilgrims have been released, one of them, Mr. Mahmood Hamid Qaid AL BROUSHI is still being held without judicial proceedings in Dhahban prison in Jeddah. 

Alkarama, while stressing the need to respect religious freedom and the safety of pilgrimages to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia, will not hesitate to raise this issue at the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Saudi Arabia to be held before the United Nations Human Rights Council.