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Systematic Government Use and Complete Disregard for Torture in Saudi Arabia

Court documents prove the systematic use and complete disregard for torture in Saudi Arabia, despite the government’s denial in international forums to cover up the committed crimes.

Today, the world celebrates the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the day on which the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment took effect in 1987.

The convention is one of the primary tools in combating torture, and Saudi Arabia ratified it in 1997. However, this practice remains deeply rooted in the system’s mechanisms without genuine attempts to reduce or hold the perpetrators accountable.

Saudi Arabia denies the practice of torture in prisons and repeatedly states that its laws prohibit and criminalize it. However, the monitoring of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights confirms that the authorities employ various forms of torture and widespread mistreatment.

Torture begins from the moment of arrest, continues through the investigation phase, and often does not cease even after the issuance of judgments.

According to international law, torture’s systematic and widespread practice constitutes a “crime against humanity.”

Monitoring and documenting several cases reveal the involvement of various institutions, from the public prosecutor’s office to the state security presidency and the judiciary, in the practice and cover-up of torture and mistreatment. Furthermore, the follow-ups confirm that confessions obtained under torture are used to issue judgments that may result in the death penalty.

An examination of legal documents clearly shows this practice and confirms the Saudi government’s violation of its own commitments, especially Article 12 of the Convention against Torture, which states that “each state party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

The court rulings, both past and present, demonstrate the judges’ disregard for the victims’ affirmation of their torture and the extraction of confessions from them, leading to arbitrary judgments based on these confessions.

Here, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights highlights the widespread nature of this practice in the Saudi judiciary and the lack of genuine accountability.

Mustafa Al-Darwish: On June 16, 2021, the Saudi government announced the execution of the minor Mustafa Al-Darwish. Al-Darwish had confirmed before the judge that he had been severely tortured.

In his response to the public prosecutor’s office, Mustafa wrote: “Beatings and physical and psychological torture forced me to sign the confession. I was threatened and insulted by the investigator, deprived of sleep, beaten with sticks and electric wires, and slapped on my face. I was forced to raise my hands and stand in this position for a long time.”

In his demands, Mustafa said, “I request a fair demand, which is to summon the investigator and discuss the investigation, the confession, and the coercion I was subjected to, enabling me to confront him with that.”

Later, the judgment document confirms that the judge paid no attention to Mustafa Al-Darwish’s request, and he relied on confessions extracted from him under torture to issue the death sentence, which was subsequently carried out without any investigation.

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