Saudi Arabia 'must be suspended from Human Rights Council' over torture allegations, UK lawyers urge

Saudi Arabia 'must be suspended from Human Rights Council' over torture allegations, UK lawyers urge
Legal campaigners Lord Ken Macdonald QC and Rodney Dixon QC maintain Riyadh's arbitrary detentions and torture are a matter for international justice.
2 min read
31 January, 2018
Saudi Arabia uses corporal punishment widely, despite its Human Rights Council membership [Getty]

Leading British human rights lawyers are submitting a formal legal opinion to the UN Human Rights Council in response to the deteriorating human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Lord Ken Macdonald QC and Rodney Dixon QC said in their report at least 60 people - including known political and human rights activists - had been arrested in Saudi Arabia since September 2017.

"Those detained have not been charged with any offence, and the information about the reasons for their arrests and circumstances of their imprisonment are very limited," the lawyers report.

"There is cause for serious concern about the treatment of many of those detained, including Mr Salman al-Awda who has recently been hospitalised and others who are, effectively, disappeared."

The report states that the Riyadh government's alleged use of torture, arbitrary detention and "disappearances" are all violations of international law.

"Victims may find that there is no effective way to assert their rights in practice. There is, of course, no relevant regional human rights court. KSA has not acceded to human rights treaties (or the relevant parts of treaties) which grant an individual the right to submit a complaint," the report adds.

The two lawyers are well-respected senior members of Britain's legal establishment. Lord Ken Macdonald QC was formerly Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, and head of the Crown Prosecution Service. Rodney Dixon QC, of Temple Garden Chambers, has represented presidents and governments around the globe. 

Together, they urged United Nations officials to withdraw Saudi Arabia's membership of the UN Human Rights Council. 

UAE arbitrary detentions and torture

In September, Dixon's office submitted a case to the UK Metropolitan Police to investigate the UAE's torture of three Qatari officials.

The trio had been kidnapped by the UAE security services and held illegally for months, during which they were beaten and tortured, it has been alleged.

Mahmoud al-Jaidah, Hamad Ali Mohammed Ali al-Hammadi and Yousef Abdul Samad al-Mullah have given evidence stating they were on innocuous visits to the UAE when they were seized and accused of a variety of crimes, from espionage to membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Jaidah was detained despite the fact that his wife was sick and at hospital. He also says before he was forced into a false confession, he was given a bottle of water which he believes may have been spiked with some sort of drug.

They say they were also subjected to beatings, electric shocks, solitary confinement, forced sleep deprivation and threats of being raped and murdered.