At the 31st session of the Human rights council, Saudi Arabia gave a speech claiming to “fight torture in all manifestations.” That same day, Muhammad Bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by French President Mr. Hollande. Saudi human rights apparently mean something different in the Saudi kingdom and France.
Days before this, a young Saudi man, Makki Al-Orayed, died after being tortured by local police. As a state signatory to the UN Convention against torture, and now the proud owner of a Legion d’Honneur medal, Saudi Arabia is obliged to promptly begin an impartial investigation.
Unfortunately for the young man’s family and friends, Saudi Arabia has not commenced an investigation, yet they have detained his body for 17 days. The authorities have refused to release the body to his family.
It was March 2nd when Makki al-Orayed went out in his car to search for a job. That was the last time his family saw him alive. When Makki did not return, his family went to the police station in Awamiyah, on Friday, March 4th.
Police Detain al-Orayed
Locals reported that al-Orayed was detained by police at a security checkpoint in Safavi – al-Awamiyah district of Qatif. They said he was taking photographs of the checkpoint.
Police claimed the fit young man, a handball player, died of “deep-seated fear.”
The family heard that the young man was detained by police, at the Awamiyah police station, and that he died there. The source of that information is unknown at this time.
After hearing this news, Makki Al-Orayed’s father, uncle and brother all went to the police station. Initially, the police denied he was at the station, but Makki’s brother saw his brother’s car outside the station. Police eventually admitted he died, but they said he died of fear.
Police allowed his father into the station, but his uncle and brother were forced to stay outside. Inside the station, his father was asked many questions and police eventually admitted he died on Thursday.
The family was allowed to see Makki’s body in the hospital fridge, and they were able to see signs of torture, including beating and electric shocks. Police would not release the young man’s body to the family. They tried to coerce them into signing a statement that said he died of natural causes.
Saudi Human Rights
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights says it “considers that the death of al-Orayed is a result of the ongoing Saudi systematic violations in which both the international and local laws are being violated, such as the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPEDD), where the Saudi authorities indented to hide him and did not inform his parents about his fate for two days. Besides, by arresting him without a warrant or an offense and killing him inside the prison, the Saudi government confirms its disregard for the human life guaranteed by Article III of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Since there were signs of torture on Makki al-Orayed’s body, the Saudi human rights group has called on the Saudi government to immediately investigate the case, to hold accountable those responsible for the death of this young man.
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights says this is not an isolated case, and many detainees in Saudi Arabia are tortured. They say torture is used in Saudi Arabia to obtain confessions, or for retribution or revenge.
It is said that torture is practiced systematically in Saudi prisons, but the judiciary ignores claims of torture made by detainees during trials.
The rights organization says because Saudi authorities ignore the practice of torture, it continues, because the perpetrators can use it with impunity. This has contributed to the persistence of the executive authorities such as the police, detectives and others continuing to practice torture.
The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights has asked the Saudi government to immediately release Makki’s body to his family, to begin a transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death and to bring the perpetrators to a fair public trial.
It is noted that the Saudi government has refused to allow the UN Special Rapprteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and severe punishments to visit Saudi Arabia. The Special Rapporteur applied to visit Saudi Arabia in 2006, 2007 and 2010, but was refused each time. The organization says this makes it clear that Saudi Arabia is not willing to stop the widespread practice of torture in the country, preferring to cover up this systematic crime.
The base information for this story was provided by Ali Adubisi, Director of The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights.