‘Detention of ex-Crown Prince weakens Saudi Arabia and the West,’ say British MPs

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Saudi Arabia’s continued detention of its former Crown Prince is weakening the standing of the Kingdom and the security of the West, as well as being in violation of international law, a panel of British MPs yesterday stated.

Former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef was passed over and replaced in 2015 by current Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. He was arrested in March this year and is reported to have lost a significant amount of weight as his health has deteriorated in detention.

According to the cross-party panel of British MPs who investigated the detention of Bin Nayef following testimony provided by human rights groups and activists last month, he was found to be “suffering from pains in his joints, particularly his knees, making it difficult for him to walk comfortably without assistance.” There is also “evidence of damage to his feet, adding to the pain in walking.”

Furthermore, Bin Nayef has not even “been able to contest his detention before an independent and impartial judge, has no access to a lawyer to discuss his situation and his case has not been reviewed to determine whether it is appropriate to continue his detention.”

The former Crown Prince was kept in solitary confinement until recently. He has been warned by the authorities that he will be sent back into solitary unless he releases funds to the Saudi government, a threat which the MPs’ panel believes to be coercion.

READ: Saudi Arabia continues to conceal its human rights abuses 

The panel was chaired by the former chair of the foreign affairs select committee Crispin Blunt MP (Conservative). He was joined by Layla Moran MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Imran Ahmad Khan MP (Conservative), a former Special Assistant for Political Affairs in Mogadishu.

The MPs have urged Saudi Arabia to address its poor human rights record in order to “defend and explain its actions in a way that will not leave it wholly pilloried in the wider court of global public opinion.” This, they argued, is in the interests of the Kingdom and the international community.

With legal advice from Tim Moloney QC of Doughty Street Chambers and Haydee Dijkstal of 33 Bedford Row, the panel was put together by London-based law firm Bindmans LLP. It suggested that member states of the G7 should suspend their extradition treaties and prisoner transfer agreements with Saudi Araba and review all of their current prisoner agreements with the Kingdom due to the overwhelming evidence of its human rights violations.

Social media firms, the panel said, should also resist pressure and intimidation by state actors or groups or individuals who may be coordinating with state actors, recognising the power of public relations that the Kingdom has been trying to harness through social media in recent years.

READ: Saudi King Salman should keep his son on a tight rein

The Panel’s conclusion was that the treatment of political detainees by the Saudis “is a “threat to the stability of the government of the KSA” and “a wider threat to international peace and stability”. Among the other recommendations made was a call for “urgent access to political detainees by international organisations mandated to assess their well-being and an urgent review of any criminal charges faced by the princes owing to due process concerns.”

Middle East Monitor

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