25 April 2016

Saudi Arabia: Increasing crackdown on civil society during review by the Committee against Torture

CAT members are holding a session CAT members are holding a session

On 24 April 2016, Issa Al Hamid, president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment and a consecutive nine-year travel ban by the Specialised Criminal Court, following an unfair trial during which he was denied access to a lawyer and to the prosecution file, preventing him from preparing his defence. All hearings and sentencing were carried out in private, denying the public access to the trial. Furthermore, charges held against him criminalised acts falling under his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and association and precisely for having publicly condemned acts of torture and fair trial violations committed by the authorities.

On 23 April 2016, Sheikh Abu Omar and Abu Yusuf Abdulaziz bin Marzouq Abdulaziz Al Tarifi, a Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar, was arrested from his house by members of the security forces, because of tweets he had posted criticising the King. In the context of an ongoing campaign of arrests, recent days have also witnessed the arrests of Mohamed Al Hodaif, writer and journalist, and Islamic scholar Suleiman Al Duweish for critical comments voiced on social media.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is being reviewed by the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) during the Committee's 57th session in Geneva, which assesses the country's compliance with its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). On 21 April 2016, Alkarama met with the UN Committee's experts to brief them on its key concerns previously raised in its extensive report submitted to the CAT ahead of Saudi Arabia's review.

Today, 25 April 2016, during the second part of the country's review, Alkarama will inform the Committee's experts of the recent arrests and sentencing of ACPRA President Issa Al Hamid and raise its concerns over the continued crackdown of Saudi civil society. Alkarama will urge the Committee to recommend to the Saudi authorities to put an end to the systematic judicial harassment and reprisal against human rights defenders and members of civil society peacefully making use of their fundamental right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).

Qatar - HR Instruments

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)


Convention against Torture (CAT)

CAT: Accessed on 11.01.2000
Optional Protocol: No
Art. 20 (Confidential inquiry): Yes
Art. 22 (Individual communications): No

State report: Due on 23.11.2016 (3rd)
Last concluding observations: 25.01.2013

International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)


Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Last review: 05.2014 (2nd cycle)
Next review: -

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) – Status A

Last review: 10.2010
Next review: 11.2015