Publication date: 17/03/2021

"Torture in Saudi Arabia - Impunity Reigns"by ALQST for Human Rights in cooperation with the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), presents a detailed investigation into torture in Saudi Arabia.



Torture is practised systematically in Saudi Arabia, both to extract confessions during interrogation and as a form of punishment during detention. Although detainees have reported telling courts about torture they have suffered, investigations are virtually never conducted into such allegations, and coerced confessions are routinely admitted as evidence against the accused. The overall lack of legal safeguards to prevent torture creates an environment that is conducive to the practice. Moreover, legislation like the Counter-terrorism Law contains provisions that facilitate, if not actively encourage, torture. 

This report elaborates on the structural causes that underlie the practice, the forces responsible for acts of torture and ill-treatment as well as the methods used. It analyses Saudi Arabia’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which it ratified in 1997, both through legal examination and recent case studies which also provide an insight into new developments and trends. This includes the torture of women human rights defenders in unofficial detention facilities by a squad of people close to the Crown Prince and is a particularly worrying development given that the torture of women detainees was previously unheard of in Saudi Arabia.

Finally, the report offers a set of recommendations that, if implemented, would bring the country into compliance with the UNCAT and help to eradicate the practice, prosecute the perpetrators, compensate the victims, and prevent future incidents of torture. 

This report was written and researched by ALQST in cooperation with the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) through a project funded by the European Union to address torture and accountability in the Gulf region.

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