UN experts demand Saudi Arabia information on the fate of Osama al-Hasani

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In the details of the letter signed by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel treatment and the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances on March 19, 2021, the Special Rapporteurs indicated that the Saudi Australian citizen, whose name on the Australian passport was Osama al-Hasani, was handed over to Saudi Arabia. On March 13, 2021, despite the risk of being tortured.

The Saudi government replied to the letter on April 28, 2021, and the response is still in translation. However, by following up on Saudi Arabia’s approach to dealing with UN mechanisms, it is not expected that the response will answer the rapporteurs’ questions and concerns. While Saudi Arabia has changed its policies in recent years and is responding to complaints to appear that it is cooperating with UN mechanisms, the responses are characterized by deliberate misinformation and incorrect information.

The complaint indicated that Al-Mahrouqi worked as an associate professor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and as a consultant in international business and trade affairs at the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, he was forced to leave his position as an advisor to the Saudi government, after intimidation and harassment allegedly stemmed from his critical opinion. After that he left the country to live between Turkey and the United Kingdom.

On February 8, 2021, he was violently arrested in Morocco after arriving for a family visit. According to what was reported, the reason for the arrest was a red notice issued by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) at the request of the Saudi authorities, without presenting an arrest warrant.

According to the letter, Al-Mahrouqi told his wife during a visit to him on February 10, 2021 that he was pressured to sign the document of his voluntary return to Saudi Arabia, but he refused.

On February 11, 2021, the Public Prosecutor of Saudi Arabia referred the extradition request for Al-Mahrouqi to the Moroccan authorities, referring to the Riyadh Agreement on Judicial Cooperation. The extradition order states that he is wanted in a car theft case.

On March 12, the United Nations Committee against Torture sent a letter to the Moroccan government requesting the application of temporary measures, which means that Al-Mahrouqi will not be extradited to Saudi Arabia until the Committee considers the case due to the potential risk of torture under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture. However, on the same day, without informing his lawyer, his family or the Australian consulate, information reached the family indicating that Al-Mahrouq had been handed over to Saudi Arabia. Since March 13, 2021, no information has been available about his fate or whereabouts.

The UN experts pointed out that the extradition of Al-Mahrouqi and the possibility of being subjected to torture is a violation of international laws, including the Convention against Torture and the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

The letter asked Saudi Arabia to provide complete information without delay about the fate and whereabouts of al-Mahrouqi, the conditions of his detention and the treatment he received. The letter also requested detailed information on the factual and legal grounds for his arrest and detention, as well as any official charges against him, and the legal provisions used to indict him.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights believes that Saudi Arabia’s reliance on security and judicial agreements is an attempt to justify violations of international laws in cases of extradition. It also notes that ignoring the opinion of the United Nations Committee against Torture, and extraditing Osama al-Mahrouqi despite the committee’s demand to stop it, confirms that Saudi Arabia plays a negative role in implementing international conventions, in particular the Convention against Torture. It also considers that bilateral agreements with countries are Saudi Arabia’s means, which it has repeatedly used in recent years, to return opponents and activists and punish them for their activities, which threatens the safety and freedom of individuals living abroad.





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