An in-depth study of the Saudi prison system by ALQST for Human Rights details sub-standard health and hygiene conditions, reckless medical negligence, and increasing use since 2017 of private detention facilities to carry out torture far from scrutiny.
ALQST’s report, “Shrouded in Secrecy: Prisons and Detention Centres in Saudi Arabia”, which builds on the organisation’s seven years of documenting human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, is enriched by a unique survey of current and recent prisoners and people close to them.
The majority of the prisoners surveyed, both male and female, were unlawfully arrested, and three-quarters of them were held without charge or release beyond the statutory time limit. Half developed health problems as a result of their conditions of detention, and nearly all reported torture or other forms of ill-treatment including threats, beatings, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and denial of family contact.
“The Saudi authorities have repeatedly failed to address the issues,” says ALQST Deputy Director Joshua Cooper. “More concerning still is the increased interference of State Security and the Royal Court in the judiciary and legal system since 2017, with thousands of people being detained on spurious charges.”
ALQST frames its findings in the context of Saudi Arabia’s international treaty obligations and deeply flawed domestic legislation. Its detailed recommendations include substantial legal reforms as well as measures to ensure the safety and welfare of prisoners, an end to the practice of torture, and the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.