Saudi prince unlawfully detained, denied contact: HRW

Saudi prince unlawfully detained, denied contact: HRW
Prince Faisal bin Abdullah Al Saud, is detained by Saudi authorities and not permitted any contact while his whereabouts remain unknown, says HRW.
3 min read
09 May, 2020
The Saudi arrest campaign started in 2017, when MBS became the Crown Prince [Getty]
Saudi Arabian authorities have unlawfully detained the son of a former King and are keeping his whereabouts secret, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday, citing sources close to the family.

The arbitrary arrest of Prince Faisal bin Abdullah Al Saud, son of former King Abdullah who died in 2015, is the latest to be exposed in sweeping arrests of Saudi royals carried out by the kingdom's authorities.

The arrests, which started in 2017, are widely perceived as an attempt by the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) to consolidate his position within the House of Saud after his father, King Salman, came to power in 2015.

According to a statement by the rights group, Prince Faisal –the former head of the Saudi Red Crescent Society – was detained on March 27 and appears to be held incommunicado.

"Despite waves of criticism, the lawless behavior of Saudi authorities during the de facto rule of Mohammed bin Salman continues unabated," Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said, according to the HRW statement.

"Now we have to add Prince Faisal to the hundreds detained in Saudi Arabia without a clear legal basis," Page added.

The global watchdog said based on information it has received from a source close to the family, Prince Faisal – his whereabouts unknown for over a month – might be a victim of enforced disappearance.

In an April report by the New York Times, associates of Prince Faisal said security officers had approached him at his home near Riyadh and accused him of carrying the coronavirus.

The former King’s son reportedly denied having the disease and said he was self-isolating as a precaution. The associates told the NYT that the prince’s family were unaware of the reasons for his arrest, as well as his place of detainment.

Prince Faisal was previously detained by Saudi authorities in 2017, when he was held at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel along with over 300 prominent businessmen and consultants, as well as royal family members and officials.

He was later released after agreeing to hand over assets to the government.

The Prince's prior arrest was also made in the absence of a legal procedure, according to the HRW.

Citing a confidential source, the HRW said Prince Faisal had been placed under a travel ban after his release in 2017.

The source told HRW that Prince Faisal has refrained from publicly criticizing authorities since his release.

The prince's family members have raised health concerns fearing possible complications due to his "heart condition," the source added.

The MBS era arrest campaign, now in its third year, has targeted clerics, intellectuals, human rights activists and businesspeople, in addition to royal family members.

Read more: Comment : Could Mohammed bin Salman's power grab unravel Al Saud rule?

Last month, a verified Twitter account belonging to Saudi Princess Basma bint Saud, who disappeared in 2018, sent out a series of tweets saying she was being held without charge in a prison with her daughter, and that her health was deteriorating.

Princess Basma, a human rights advocate and daughter of King Saud, who ruled Saudi Arabia six decades ago, was reportedly arrested while trying to leave Saudi Arabia for Switzerland.

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In March, Saudi authorities arrested three princes - including King Salman's brother and nephew - on charges of "plotting a coup to unseat the king and crown prince".

"Saudi Arabia’s recent justice reforms have evidently not curbed rampant arbitrary detentions, including of prominent royal family members," Page said, according to the statement.

Page additionally condemned the kingdom for bypassing legal procedures mandating arrests.

"The arrest and possible disappearance of Prince Faisal demonstrates again Saudi authorities' blatant disrespect for the rule of law and the need for a full overhaul of the justice system," the HRW director said.

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