Saudi Arabia: Opinion issued on Khalid Al Rashed's detention

Alkarama for Human Rights, 20 July 2007

Alkarama for Human Rights has learned that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued opinion 4/2007 on 8 May 2007 about the detention of Mr. Khalid Al Rashed, deeming the case to constitute arbitrary detention and calling on the Saudi government to remedy this situation. 

Alkarama had submitted the case of Mr. Khalid bin Muhammad Al Rashed, detained at Al Ha’ir prison in Riyadh, to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 30 April 2006.

Mr. Khalid bin Muhammad bin Hamad Al Rashed was born on 18 March 1962.  A former Aramco employee, he is now a teacher at Fahd bin Muflih Al Sabi`i at Thuqba in Dammam province.  He is known for being part of the “Reformers” movement. 

He was arrested on 19 March 2006 at Makkah as he was performing the Umrah (pilgrimage) with his wife.  His family believes that the arrest was made as a result of the position he had publicly taken regarding government policy.

No warrant was presented to him at the time of his arrest, and no explanation, even verbal, was given to him.  According to his relatives, he has suffered mistreatment following his arrest and during his imprisonment.  After being detained at Makkah by the security forces for several days, he was transferred to Al Ha’ir prison near the capital, Riyadh. 

His health, judging by the family’s reports, has worsened during his secret detention, as a result of the mistreatment he has suffered.  His family fears that his life is in danger.

Mr. Khalid bin Muhammad Al Rashed has not been charged nor has he been brought before a court.  His family has not been permitted to hire a lawyer to help defend him in the latter event, nor to visit him.

It is clear that he is being detained solely for having openly and peacefully expressed political ideas critical of the government.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention examined Mr. Al Rashed’s case but did not receive a response to its letters to the Saudi authorities of 29 September 2006 and 30 November 2006.  It therefore considers him to be undergoing arbitrary detention, all the more so given that no charge has been made against him and that he seems to have been arrested for his political activities and for exercising his freedom of expression.

According to the Working Group, this arbitrary detention violates the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It calls on the government to take all necessary steps to rectify this situation and urges it also to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Saudi Arabia is still not party.

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