Saudi Arabia: The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issues its opinion regarding Dr. Salman Alodah and his brother Khaled Alodah

العودة وشقيقه

During its 97th session held from 28 August to 1 September 2023, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued its Opinion No. 56/2023 concerning Dr. Salman Alodah and his brother Mr. Khaled Alodah in which it concluded that the restriction of their liberty contravened several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

In its Opinion, the Working Group expressed its astonishment at the responses of the Government of Saudi Arabia, which had mainly focused on supporting the incompetence of the Working Group to examine the complaint and to question the facts and violations in question. 

The experts concluded that this is one of many opinions issued in recent years that have documented systematic abuses by the Saudi authorities. 

Reliability of the complaint submitted by Alkarama 

The Working Group also considered the case of Mr. Khaled Alodah, brother of Mr. Salman Alodah, and welcomed the reliability of the information provided by the complainant despite attempts by the Saudi authorities to question it. 

The experts noted that the government has not been able to ensure the lawfulness of the detention of the two victims prosecuted on the basis of the Anti-Terrorism and Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Cybercrime Act. 

The Working Group confirmed the illegality of Mr. Salman Alodah's pre-trial detention for more than four years, acknowledging the authorities' refusal to provide him with the necessary medical care and the torture and ill-treatment he suffered. 

As for the brother, Mr. Khaled Alodah, the experts noted the violation of his right to equality before the law and his right to freedom of expression by acknowledging that he is detained and ill-treated in retaliation for his solidarity with his brother. Mr. Khaled Alodah had published several tweets on social media in which he refuted the accusations against him. 

In their Opinion, the experts indicated the need for the Alodah brothers to be immediately released and compensated. They called for an investigation into the violations and for those responsible for the violations to be held to account. The case was also referred to the Special Rapporteur on torture, with experts calling on the government to disseminate the decision widely by all available means. 

The High Commissioner

Earlier, on 22 December 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human  Rights (OHCHR) addressed the  Saudi authorities regarding the cases of Dr. Safar Al Hawali and Dr. Salman Alodah, expressing grave concern about the widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests and detentions of individuals, including human rights defenders, solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to liberty of expression and meeting. 

Alkarama's actions

On 4 October 2017, Alkarama submitted Dr. Alodah's case to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. On 25 October 2017, Alkarama submitted the case to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. A year later, on 20 September 2018, Alkarama referred the case to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the fight against terrorism. 

On 26 January 2021, the case was submitted to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities asking it to urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release Dr. Alodah and, as an emergency measure, to cease reprisals against his family. 

On 31 May 2022, Alkarama submitted a request for an opinion to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to rule on the arbitrary nature of Dr. Alodah's detention. 

As part of its media work, Alkarama has published several statements on human rights in Arabic, French and English and has prepared a short film on his case.