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Saudi Arabia: Two Opposition Activists at Risk of Torture if Extradited to Sudan
On 24 January 2017, Alkarama solicited the Special Rapporteur on torture (SRT) on behalf of the Sudanese opposition activists Elwaleed Imam Taha and Elgassim Mohamed Sid-Ahmad, who are currently detained in Al Ha’ir Prison, Saudi Arabia, but fear imminent extradition to Sudan, where they are at high risk of being subjected to torture and prosecuted for making use of their fundamental right to freedom of expression.
Elwaleed and Elgassim have lived with their families in Saudi Arabia for many years, working in the financial sector. Both men have openly criticised the Sudanese government, with Elgassim being the administrator of a public Facebook group asking for democratic reforms and respect for human rights in Sudan. Most recently, on 19 December 2016, the men endorsed a campaign of stay-at-home strikes – known as “Civil Disobedience” – in their home country, protesting austerity measures and soaring medicine prices imposed by the government.
In the early evening of 21 December 2016, Elwaleed and Elgassim were arrested at their workplace by men, who were wearing civilian clothes and identified themselves as State Security forces. The security officers neither showed a warrant nor informed the men of the reasons for their arrest. They were then escorted to their respective homes, which were raided and searched, before taking the men to an unknown location.
The night of his arrest, Elgassim was allowed an unofficial phone call by a prison guard. While Elgassim was unaware of his place of detention, he informed his wife that the arrest order was made following a request by the Sudanese Embassy in Riyadh. On 27 December 2016, Elwaleed was allowed a phone call to his wife, but was also still unaware of his location. Since then, both men have been denied any form of communication with the outside world as well as access to legal counsel.
Attempts made by the victims’ wives to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, demanding visitation and information on their husband’s well-being, remained unsuccessful. The authorities merely revealed that both men were being detained at the Al Ha’ir political prison for secret investigation related to a matter of “national security” and that they were not allowed any contact with their families or lawyers.
Concerned over the fact that, Elwaleed and Elgassim have so far been held incommunicado for 28 days, which increases their risk of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment, Alkarama requested the intervention of the Special Rapporteur on torture to ask the Saudi authorities to immediately release the men and to abstain from extraditing them to Sudan, were they are at great risk of torture and further prosecution for acts falling under their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
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