The Saudi authorities continue to arbitrarily detain the head of the Islamic Press Association (IPA), Dr. Ahmed Al-Suwayan, despite his sentence having expired nearly years ago.
Saudi security forces arrested Dr. Al-Suwayan without legal justification on 20 September 2017, after which he was sentenced to three years in prison.
Dr. Al-Suwayan is one of the victims of an infamous campaign of arrests that began in September 2017, which was amongst the largest in the country’s history.
The campaign saw numerous academics, intellectuals, and religious figures arrested, including Dr. Awad Al-Qarni, a member of the judiciary’s Higher Institute, and Abdulaziz al-Fawzan, the Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Other arrestees include Dr. Salman al-Awda, Dr. Safar al-Hawali, Saleh Al-Talib, Issam al-Zamil, Abdullah al-Maliki, Jamil Farsi, and Mustafa al-Hassan (the last, al-Hassan, was later released on health grounds).
The same campaign also saw a number of women, including women’s and human right activists, arrested.
The Saudi authorities continue to block news of many of the detainees’ conditions, though leaks suggest that several have faced torture and other abuses, and that many of them are suffering from deteriorations to their health.
Recently, a prominent UN official accused the Saudi authorities of continuing to violate human rights, and of using the fight against terrorism as an alibi for arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to speech, and so on.
Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, recently published a report within the remit of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council, on global practices of secret detention, in which the Saudi regime was criticized.