Haydee Dijkstal secures finding of arbitrary detention in Saudi Arabia before UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

During its 91st Session from 6-10 September 2021, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a determination on the continued detention of 83-year-old Dr Mohammed Al Khoudary and his 50-year-old son, Dr Hani Al Khoudary, who have been detained in Saudi Arabia since 4 April 2019 and were tried as part of a mass unfair trial of more than 60 Palestinians living and working in Saudi Arabia.   The determination came after international counsel for the Al Khoudarys, Haydee Dijkstal of 33 Bedford Row Chambers, submitted a Communication to the Working Group as to the arbitrary nature of their detention and human rights violations committed against the two men.

The Working Group’s determination confirmed the allegations made within the Communication submitted, namely that the deprivation of liberty of the Al Khoudarys is arbitrary, and that their fundamental human rights - including to a fair trial, due process, against torture, to adequate health care and to communication with family – have been continuously violated.  The Working Group found that the appropriate remedy for this treatment is immediate release and for the Al Khoudarys to be afforded compensation and other reparations.

As to the Working Group’s finding that their detention is arbitrary, the Working Group agreed with the Communication’s submission that it confirmed an arbitrary character for three reasons, including that (1) there was a lack of legal basis for arrest and detention, (2) the violations of the right to a fair trial are of such a gravity as to give the detention an arbitrary character, and (3) they were targeted based on their status as Palestinian national making their detention based on discriminatory groups on national origin.

The Working Group highlighted that the Al Khoudarys’ case, along with many others in Saudi Arabia, cause it serious concern as to a “systemic problem with arbitrary detention in Saudi Arabia, which amounts to a serious violation of international law”, and as such, recalled that “widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of the rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”

The Working Group’s determination can be found here.

Media coverage of the decision can be found here.