Home » Reports » One year after the April massacre and ten months since a formal denial of violations: Continuing fears for the life of Dr. Abbas Alabbad

One year after the April massacre and ten months since a formal denial of violations: Continuing fears for the life of Dr. Abbas Alabbad

Dr. Abbas Alabbad
Dr. Abbas Alabbad

لقرائته بالعربية إضغط هنا

On 24 June 2019, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a letter it received in May 2019, from several UN special rapporteurs, regarding the case of detainee Dr. Abbas Alabbad.

The Saudi response included a denial of information presented in the complaint concerning abuses against Abbas Alabbad, a consultant pediatric nephrologist at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, since his arrest in 2013, which was part of a series of arrests of individuals whom the Saudi government said belonged to a spy cell.

The Saudi government stated that the accused, Alabbad, who was sentenced to death before the Supreme Court returned the file to the Specialized Criminal Court, stands accused of “high treason, perpetrating acts of espionage against the Kingdom on behalf of a hostile state that supports terrorism, and endeavoring to provoke sedition and schism within the Kingdom.”

The Saudi government enumerated the laws upon which it claims it relied in the arrest and trial of Alabbad. It denied arresting him secretly and isolating him from the outside world for the first three months of his detention. Moreover, the government claimed that judicial and civil groups, as well as official organizations, make regular visits to prisons to ensure the absence of violations, and it classifies the National Society for Human Rights as a civil society organization despite being founded by royal decree in 2004.

The government’s response noted that Alabbad received a fair trial and that the judge did not rely only on confessions, but also on supposed “evidence and proof, including arrestrecords and witness statements.” In addition, the reply denied that Alabbad suffered any form of torture or ill-treatment and listed Saudi Arabia’s rules and obligations that prohibit torture while pointing out that the international agreements it has ratified, including the Convention Against Torture, are a part of national law.

While the source letter notes that fears for Alabbad’s life have increased with the April 2019 execution of 11 individuals in the same case as Alabbad and who faced similar abuses, the official Saudi reply stated that the sentences were implemented after “the judgments handed down against them were final and their cases were heard in a fair and public trial before an independent judge. They benefited from the rights and guarantees enshrined in the Kingdom’s judicial regulations, which are consistent with international fair trial standards, including the right of defense and the assistance of legal representatives, and the right to challenge the judgments handed down against them.”

Although the complaint submitted by the source made clear that Alabbad and the others in his case faced charges related to their practice of religious rites and for belonging to the Shia minority, the official reply reiterated previous claimsthat “all citizens enjoy their rights on an equal footing. They have the same rights and duties, and practice their religious rites and beliefs freely and without discrimination.”

ESOHR notes that the Saudi response to the letters of special rapporteurs deliberately distorts the facts and promotes an unrealistic image of the government’s handling of UN mechanisms. Furthermore, itindicates that it is sufficient to enumerate the stated laws without indicating how and whether they are applied.

Alabbad was arrested in 2013 and remained in prison without trial for three years, after which he was brought to trial.His trial is still ongoing due to the court’s procrastination and continued delay in his case. This form of pressure and manipulation of his morale amounts to psychological torture and physical exhaustion, andviolates the standards of fair trials requiringa speedy trial and the achievement of justice, especially after the issuance of a preliminary death sentence that puts him and his family in a permanent state of fear and dread.

ESOHR confirms that fears for Alabbad’s life increased following the April 2019 execution of others sentenced alongside him, despite documentation of their lack of fair trials and their subjection to torture, ill-treatment, and numerous abuses, as noted in previous international complaints. ESOHR believes that the ongoing threat to Alabbad’s life, by retrying him without adjusting for the circumstances or holding his torturers accountable, is a violation against him and his life and in blatant violation of international laws.

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