Saudi Arabia has detained thousands of people for at least six months without trial, international non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch said on Sunday. As many as 2,305 people have been detained in this way, one of them for over a decade, the NGO said.
Human Rights Watch analysed data from files belonging to the kingdom’s interior ministry. “If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch said. “It seems that [Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”
The NGO said that the number of people in detention without trial had increased drastically since 2014, when only 293 individuals were held for over six months. Human Rights Watch demanded that Saudi authorities stop holding people “arbitrarily”.
The organisation said it had written to Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb, the Saudi attorney general in February about the detentions, but received no response. The NGO said the detentions violate Saudi Arabia’s own Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides that a person may be detained without charge for a maximum of five days, renewable up to six months by an order of the Bureau of Public Prosecution.