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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Saudi Arabia

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 April 2005
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2004 - Saudi Arabia, 14 April 2005, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Arbitrary arrest and detention of several human rights defenders69

On 9 March 2004, the Saudi authorities officially reiterated the announcement of the establishment of the National Human Rights Committee (first publicised in May 2003),70 and that it would be chaired by a president to be appointed by the government. Twelve persons, known for their active involvement in human rights advocacy and the promotion of democratic reforms, sharply criticised the lack of independence of this Committee: Messrs. Adnan Al-Shakhess, Khalid Al- Hameed, Matrouk Al-Faleh, Abdulla Al-Hamad and Towfiq Al-Qaseer, academics, Hamad Al-Kanhel, Mohammed Said Al-Taib, Abd Rab Al- Ameer Mussa Al-Bukhamseen, and Shaikh Sulaiman Al-Rashoud, human rights activists, Ali Al-Deminy and Najeeb Al-Khanizee, writers and political advocates, and Abd Al-Rahman Allahim, a lawyer and human rights defender.

Short after, the same twelve individuals submitted a request for the creation and registration of an independent human rights organisation.

On 15 March 2004, Messrs. Al-Shakhess, Al-Hameed, Al-Faleh, Al-Hamad, Al-Qaseer, Al-Kanhel, Al-Taib, Al-Bukhamseen, Al-Rashoud, Al-Deminy and Al-Khanizee were arrested by Saudi intelligence officers and held in solitary confinement in the Ulayasha prison, in Riyadh.

On 17 March 2004, Mr. Allahim was also arrested and held in custody, following an interview broadcast by Al-Jazeera satellite during which he had called on the government to release the other eleven activists.

On the same day Messrs. Al-Shakhess, Al-Kanhel, Al-Bukhamseen and Al-Hameed were released without charges. Messrs. Al-Taib, Al-Qaseer and Al-Khanizee were released on 18 March 2004, Mr. Allahim on 25 March and Mr. Al-Rashoud on 29 March. The nine of them were forced to sign a pledge that they would cease their campaign in favour of political reforms and human rights in order to be released.

Messrs. Al-Hamad, Al-Faleh and Al-Deminy, who refused to sign the document, were held in custody without access to their lawyers.

On 6 November 2004, Mr. Allahim, spokesman for the defence of the three detainees, was again arrested after disclosing to the Agence France Presse (AFP), the letter addressed by his three clients to Prince Abdullah Al-Saud, concerning the arbitrariness of their detention.

On 1 December 2004, Messrs. Al-Hamad, Al-Faleh and Al-Deminy were brought before the administrative court in Riyadh, charged with acts intended to destabilise the regime, the dissemination of false information and criticism of prison authorities. As Mr. Allahim was still being detained, the three human rights defenders had no defence. The court stated that the case did not come under its jurisdiction and referred it to the criminal court of first instance.

As of late 2004, no date had been set for a hearing, whilst Mr. Allahim was still being detained without charges.

Moreover, the request submitted by the twelve activists to register an independent human rights association was neither acknowledged nor processed.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website ( was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

68. Idem.

69. See Urgent Appeals SAU 001/0304/OBS 017, 017.1 and 017.2.

70. See Annual Report 2003.

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