Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia- Serious concern for safety of human rights defender, Mohammed Saleh Al-Bajadi, who has been held in incommunicado detention since September
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern for the health and safety of human rights defender Mohammed Saleh Al-Bajadi. He is one of the co-founders of the Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASM). The last contact he had with his family was on 10 September 2012.
He has gone on hunger strike three times in protest against his ill-treatment and isolation from the outside world. According to information received he started a third hunger strike on 19 September 2012. However, since that date there has been no news from nor contact with him and no one has been allowed to visit him. The GCHR issued an appeal on 25 February 2013 relating to detained human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, including Mohammed Al-Bajadi (for further information see https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/347).
On 24 March 2013, his lawyer, Fawzan Al-Harbi wrote a letter to the Director of the Al- Ha'ir prison where the human rights defender is reportedly being detained, and went to the prison to meet the Director. However, he was denied entry at the prison gate and he was told that he had to have an appointment to enter. He was given contact phone numbers to arrange for such an appointment but he was unable to get through to anyone using the numbers provided. The following day he sent a letter by registered post to the Director of Al- Ha'ir prison asking for permission to visit his client. However, to date he has not received a reply.
On 6 January 2013, Fawzan Al-Harbi met the President of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (Attorney General) and filed a complaint about the condition of Mohammed Al-Bajadi and asked to be allowed to visit him. However, the Attorney General refused to receive the complaint saying that he will follow up on the matter. However, Fawzan Al-Harbi has heard nothing further from the Attorney General’s office.
The GCHR expresses immediate and serious concern for the health and safety of Mohammed Al-Bajadi particularly in light of the fact that there he has been held in incommunicado detention. The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to immediately release information regarding his condition and grant him access to his lawyers and family.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Immediately disclose the whereabouts and health condition of human defender Mohammed Al-Bajadi;
- Grant Mohammed Al-Bajadi immediate and unfettered access to his family and lawyers;
- Immediately release Mohammed Al-Bajadi from detention;
- Guarantee the health and security of Mohammed Al-Bajadi while he remains in detention;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in KSA are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (b) which states “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups” and to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.