September 24, 2021
Ten Egyptian nationals belonging to Nubian civic associations in Saudi Arabia have finally been charged, more than a year after being arrested and arbitrarily detained without access to a lawyer or family visits, for exercising their right to free association and assembly. They are scheduled to be brought to trial in November.
ALQST and MENA Rights Group have learned from reliable sources that, on 14 July 2020, Saudi officials believed to be from the Mabaheth (secret police), part of the Presidency of State Security, raided the home of Adel Sayed Ibrahim Fakir (pictured left), the current head of the Nubian community in Riyadh and a long-term resident in Saudi Arabia. The following day they stormed the homes of the previous head of Riyadh’s Nubian community, Farajallah Ahmed Yousef (pictured right), and eight other members of Nubian civic associations in Saudi Arabia, and arrested them.
For approximately two months after the arrests their whereabouts remained unknown. In September 2020 they were finally allowed to make calls to their families, in which they informed them that they were being held in al-Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh. In May 2021, they were transferred from al-Ha’ir to Abha Prison in Asir, before being returned to al-Ha’ir in August, and transferred again to Abha in September. In their latest period in al-Ha'ir, the ten individuals were finally charged. They are scheduled to be brought to trial in November.
Four of the individuals had previously been arrested on 25 October 2019, when they held an event in Riyadh to mark the anniversary of the October 1973 war, featuring banners of prominent Nubian Egyptians involved in the war. The four were interrogated about the banners and arbitrarily detained for between one and two months. Following their arrest, the Egyptian Consulate General in Riyadh issued a statement saying that it supported the actions of the Saudi authorities.
The 10 Nubian Egyptians were arbitrarily held for over one year without referral to court, in grave contravention of both international human rights standards and domestic Saudi law. Under Saudi Arabia's Law of Criminal Procedure (LCP) the Public Prosecutor can extend the normal 24-hour period of custody if necessary, but only up to a maximum of six months, after which detainees must be released or brought to court.
ALQST and MENA Rights Group call on the Saudi authorities to release these 10 individuals who are being detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of association and assembly and drop the charges against them, and call on the international community to press the Saudi authorities to end their violations against them.