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Rights group launches report on “Patterns of Torture in Saudi Arabia”

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) launched a report entitled, “Patterns of Torture in Saudi Arabia.”

Drawing on GCHR and other human rights organisations’ urgent appeals and case studies, the comprehensive reports of United Nations Special Rapporteurs, the UN Committee against Torture, lawyers and reputable news sources, the report demonstrates the patterns of torture that are central to consolidating and maintaining Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian style of governance. 

As all of the sources point to an increasingly repressive environment for human rights defenders and dissenting voices since Mohammed bin Salman became Crown Prince in 2017, the report focusses on the main patterns of torture that have emerged in Saudi Arabia over the past four years.

GCHR has identified the following key patterns of torture:

  • The use of terrorism-related offences as a means of quashing dissent and the systematic arbitrary detention and torture of those charged with these offences.
  • The specific targeting of women human rights defenders.
  • A lack of accountability for those accused of perpetrating torture.

The report concludes that the perpetration of torture in Saudi Arabia is an organised and systematic practice that is highly enmeshed with the machinery of the state and the judiciary. More specifically, the authorities’ reliance on arbitrary detention, custodial torture and judicial harassment in their crackdown on Saudi civil society demonstrate the extent to which torture has become official state policy in Saudi Arabia.

Torture survivors face considerable hurdles in achieving justice and accountability at a domestic level due to the deeply entrenched impunity culture in Saudi Arabia. However, the report identifies how perpetrators can nevertheless be held accountable at the international level. In particular, the greater use of universal jurisdiction and the coordination of diplomatic efforts to demonstrate the international community’s disapproval of Saudi Arabia’s increasingly poor human rights record are crucial to end impunity and ensure accountability for the perpetration of torture in Saudi Arabia.

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