UN expert voices concern over life of Saudi human rights defender held incommunicado

Imprisoned Saudi human rights defender Mohammad al-Qahtani (Photo via Twitter)

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders has expressed serious concern over the health condition and life of an imprisoned Saudi human rights advocate, who is reportedly being kept incommunicado after his family complained about assaults against him.

“I am concerned at reports that his family has lost communication with Mohammad al-Qahtani since October 23, 2022, after filing a complaint about attacks on him by other inmates,” Mary Lawlor said.

“I am calling on the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia to inform his family of his whereabouts and current state of health, and to allow access by his family and lawyers,” she urged.

Lawlor said she is gravely concerned about the use of incommunicado detention as it represents a violation of detainees’ rights under international law.

“Such methods give rise to grave concerns for the personal integrity of detainees, as they run a heightened risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture when all contact with the outside world has been blocked,” the expert noted.

Lawlor also said she is in contact with the relevant officials about the case.

Qahtani, who is serving his sentence at al-Ha’ir Reformatory Prison in the capital Riyadh, had repeatedly protested against ill treatment at the detention center.

The human rights defender has complained about attacks by other prisoners since May, but authorities have refused his request to be transferred. 

Qahtani is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, which was dissolved in 2013.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison that year for allegedly providing information to outside sources, including UN human rights mechanisms.

Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:


Press TV News Roku