Geneva- The Euro-Mediterranean for Human Rights Monitor urged the Saudi authorities to immediately reveal the fate of dozens of Palestinians who have been subjected to enforced disappearance and release them unless convicted of any violation.
Saudi Arabia forcibly hides dozens of Palestinians
The Geneva-based group said in a statement that it could not give an exact number of the Palestinian detainees, but it has names of about 60 people, while estimates within the Palestinian community in Saudi Arabia says that the number far exceeds this.
The Euro-Med added that it was able to document testimonies from eleven Palestinian families whose children have been arrested or forcibly disappeared in the last few months during their stay or visit to Saudi Arabia, including students, residents, academics and businessmen. In fact, those people were isolated from the outside world without any specific indictments against them. They were not brought before the public prosecution, nor allowed to communicate with their relatives, or communicate with their lawyers.
“The campaign in Saudi Arabia of arresting Palestinians is but one in a long series of human rights violations in the country”, said Selin Yasar, Euro-Meds communication and media officer.
A detainee with an Algerian nationality, who was released recently, has revealed to the Euro-Med some of the practices, violations, and methods of torture that the detainees, especially Palestinians, suffer from by interrogators and jailers of the Dhahban Central Prison in Saudi Arabia.
The former detainee, who left Saudi Arabia last week, said those jailers deprived detainees of sleep or access to medical treatment, although some of them were elderly and in need of special care.
He added that food inside the prison was served in a humiliating way and was sometimes offered in bags, and that the jailers kept detainees shackled even while in their prison cells.
The Dhahban Central Prison is located in a small, isolated village off the coast, 20 kilometers outside the borders of Jeddah, where authorities are holding thousands of prisoners for political, human rights, terrorism and violence charges.
The Geneva-based group pointed out that the family of engineer (A5) – a resident of the occupied West Bank has lost contact with their son early last month, while attending to the Passports Department in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
According to the family’s statement, they and his friends, who work for a Saudi company, were prevented from asking about his fate or the place of detention.
“My biggest pain is not knowing anything about my husband. I do not know if he is alive, dead, healthy or tortured, and this made his disappearance more painful for my children, his parents, and his siblings,” said A5’s wife.
According to the Euro-Med, the family of the Palestinian (B7) is another example of enforced disappearance in Saudi Arabia. The family of B7 lost contact with their son last July, and knew nothing about him since then despite their repeated appeals to the authorities to reveal his fate or whereabouts.
According to the family, its son is a former prisoner in Israeli prisons and was forcibly deported to Jordan, where he completed his university education, got married and then moved to work for a company in Saudi Arabia.
The Euro-Med explained that the Saudi authorities arrested last July a 60-year-old Palestinian businessman who has been living in Jeddah for decades.
The Euro-Med reported that one of the detainees sons said that the authorities confiscated his money, threatened his family members to keep silent, and prevented them from leaving Saudi Arabia for fear of exposing the whereabouts of their fathers arrest.
The Euro-Med said it monitored the detention of Palestinian-born people with Arab nationalities while performing pilgrimage this year, but their families remain silent regarding the conditions of their detention in the hope that their nightmare of enforced disappearance would come to an end, and they would return to their normal life.
Among those cases is a family of Palestinian origins with a Jordanian nationality. Their breadwinner left to perform pilgrimage with his wife, but he did not return to Jordan. His wife, who told his children and friends that the authorities in Jeddah had requested to meet him on August 9, did. Since then, she did not know anything about his fate or the place of detention.
The wife said that she had submitted the necessary documents to the Saudi Embassy in Amman upon her return to Jordan, and had also requested the Jordanian Foreign Ministry to help collect information about her husband’s fate and conditions of detention.
The Euro-Med considered the practices of the Saudi authorities a flagrant violation of the requirements of justice, which guaranteed everyone the right to a fair trial including knowing charges against them, the right to defense and access to a lawyer. However, the Saudi authorities did not confirm arresting dozens of people without any formal charges. The authorities also did not bring them before the Public Prosecution, which is the competent authority for arrest and investigation.
The Euro-Med affirmed that the Saudi authorities’ practices against Palestinian detainees are raising question marks about the conditions of their human rights. It also affirms that the relevant authorities do not comply with the international legal rules that guarantee the simplest rights of litigation for any individual, the most important of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Human Rights Monitor also affirmed that under international law, the crime of enforced disappearance could still be valid until the state reveals the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned. Therefore, the Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, should order the executive authorities to immediately reveal the fate of dozens of Palestinians who have been subjected to enforced disappearance, release others detained without specific indictments, and open an urgent investigation into these cases and prosecute those responsible.
The organization also called on the Saudi King to address the brutal methods used by the Saudi security forces against those forcibly disappeared, and subjected to other forms of bad treatment. The Organization urged the international community and Saudi Arabias allies in the West to put pressure on the Saudi decision makers to spare Saudi citizens and foreigners the suffering of secret detention and to end the flagrant human rights violations in the country.