Prisoners of Conscience

Euro-Med Monitor: Saudi arrest campaign against judges raises multi-directional concerns

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the Saudi Arabian authorities had launched an arrest campaign that affected several judges working in the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court in the Kingdom. 

According to reports, the Saudi State Security Service detained an unspecified number of court judges a few days ago. In most cases, the security forces stormed the judges’ workplaces. They took them to unknown destinations without informing them of the reasons for their arrest or ensuring proper legal procedures. 

The arrests involved prominent judges, including Abdul Aziz Al Jaber, Mohammed Al-Omari, Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, Nasser Al-Harbi, and others whose numbers or names are still unknown.

The authorities did not provide an official statement on the issue, exacerbating families’ fear for the fate of the judges. The campaign against judges is very similar to other campaigns against intellectuals, writers, clerics, and opponents during the past years.

Some of the arrested judges had issued unfair rulings against some prisoners of conscience during the past two years. This indicates that arbitrary policies are not limited to opponents only but may affect everyone regardless of their position or social, religious, or political activities.

It is also feared that these arrests were executed to pressure the judges to pass new rulings or decisions or within a wide campaign to illegally restructure the judiciary to further the executive authority’s control over the judiciary.

This campaign against judges is very similar to other campaigns against intellectuals, writers, clerics, and opponents during the past years, as orders of higher sovereign bodies carry out such arrests without following due legal procedures.

The lack of legal and judicial oversight over the executive authorities in the Kingdom has led to the restriction of individuals’ rights and their subjection to various types of violations and abuse without fear of any form of accountability.

The authorities should state the reasons for the arrest campaign against the judges, immediately disclose their location and detention conditions, and enable them to enjoy their full legal rights, especially to meet with their families and lawyers. The authorities should also release judges who have not been convicted or proven guilty, respect the judiciary and its work, and distance it from unjustified arbitrary policies.

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