Cairo: 1 June, 2017
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expresses its deep concern over the fate and safety of the Saudi Arabian human rights activist and defender Mohammad al-Otaibi, after he was forcibly deported back to his country, on 28 May 2017, while he was en route to Norway accompanying his wife. They were both granted political asylum, besides travel documents, by the Norwegian government in case they arrive in their country as part of the United Nations’ quotas of refugees.
Vehemently denouncing the Qatar’s arbitrary measure carried out against activist Mohammad al-Otaibi endangering his life and personal safety, ANHRI calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to urgently reveal the activist’s fate and release him immediately.
“The forcible deportation of al-Otaibi, which puts his life and personal safety at risk, constitutes a flagrant violation a flaw by the Qatari government, as well as a serious infringement of Article (33) of the Refugee Convention, which prohibits states to ‘expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his (or her) life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’.
According to recurrent reports, prisoners and detainees in Saudi Arabia are subject to systematic torture and other sorts of ill-treatment, which is linked to extracting confessions from detainees.
Last March, noticeably, al-Otaibi fled his country to Qatar where he sought asylum, ahead of his trial proceedings, along with activist Abdullah al-Attawi, who were referred to the court, in October 2016, because of their human rights activism in a country that shows hostility towards human rights.
Both al-Otaibi and al-Attawi are faced by the court with a list of charges pertaining to their work in the field of human rights, including: “taking part in establishing and declaring an institution before obtaining the necessary licenses, undermining the national unity, spreading chaos, and stirring up public opinion”.
Al-Otaibi, noteworthy, was previously released in mid 2012 after his was detained in 2009 over protest charges. He was also banned from traveling for five years.