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The Saudi authorities should allow us to meet and speak with two Saudi princes are being detained

After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the arrest of women's rights activists, the Saudi's reputation for compliance with human rights standards has been seriously damaged.

11 Oktober 2020 12:16

Among 20 princes was arrested by the Saudi Arabia authorities in last March, there are twi senior and influenced princes: Princie Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz, the younger brother of KIng Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif.

Their lawyers have publicly stated that they are concerned about the circumstances of their detention including access to medical treatment, where they are being held,communication with the family and it seems a concern with regards to the legal process being applied to them.

Due to that matter, a group of British Members of Parliament and lawyers have set up an investigation panel to get information whereabout that two princes, tehir conditions, and how they are being treated during their detention.

According to lawyer Tayab Ali, who is also involve in that panel, after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the arrest of women's rights activists, the Saudi's reputation for compliance with human rights standards has been seriously damaged. "Allowing the panel to visit the Kingdom to speak with the detainees would be a huge step towards repairing that seriously damaged reputation," he said in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp on Wednesday.

Excerpts:

Why did British MPs and lawyers launch a probe to know about the condition of two Saudi senior princes, Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz and Muhammad bin Nayif?

The review is commissioned by a person or persons with local interest in the way that Saudi Arabia treats political prisoners generally. The two princes are senior members of the Saudi establishment. It is useful to look at the situation for Saudi political prisoners through the treatment of the princes who you would think would be protected as a result of their status.

Their reported conditions of detention are something which concerns Members of Parliament in the UK as the UK has trade and other relations with Saudi Arabia. It is important for the UK to be aware of the activities it does business with, especially where that activity potentially violates international law.

When the probe was launch?

The review was formally launched on on 28 September 2020. On that day, Crispin Blunt wrote to the His Excellency HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar who is the Saudi Ambassador to the UK requesting a meeting and access to the detainees.

Who is Crispin Blunt?

Crispin Blunt is the chair of the Panel and a Member of Parliament in the UK. He served as Chair for the UK government's Foreign Affairs Select Committee from 2015 to 2017. He was also chair of the Conservative Middle East Council from 2003 to 2008. He was also Parliamentary Under-Secretary with the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for Prisons and Probation in 2010 to 2012.

How about the response from Prince Khalid?

The Ambassador responded with an offer an informal meeting with the Chair to the panel. This meeting took place on Monday 5 October at the Saudi Embassy in London. There is a proposal of a formal meeting with the whole panel and the Embassy which we hope will be arranged very soon.

Do you believe through this way the investigation team will get actual information on whereabout of Prince Ahmad and Bin Nayif?

The panel will receive and review evidence from many sources. It will analyse that evidence and produce a report. The positon with the Saudi Embassy is clear. They have three choices. First, they could break off all cooperation. This would be a very worrying sign. Second, they could provide written evidence about the status of the detainees.

We would be able to cross check that against other evidence that we receive. Third they could all the panel to visit Saudi Arabia to meet with the detainees and people relevant to their detention and treatment. This would be in everyone's interests.

Third, they could allow the panel to visit Saudi Arabia to meet with the detainees and people relevant to their detention and treatment. This would be in everyone's interests.

Do you think the Saudis will allow the third one?

After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the arrest of women's rights activists, the Saudi's reputation for compliance with human rights standards has been seriously damaged. Allowing the panel to visit the Kingdom to speak with the detainees would be a huge step towards repairing that seriously damaged reputation.

The Saudi's should see this as an opportunity to show the world that they are complying with international legal standards.

If the Saudis refuse, how the investigation will find the true facts about those two Saudi princes?

The panel will seek evidence from individuals and NGOs that have first hand knowledge of the detainees. It is often surprising how much information is sent to a panel such as this from people that have close knowledge of what the situation is.

In addition we can look at the reported conditions of detainees in Saudi Arabia to look at the way Saudi Arabia generally deals with detainees and of course the panel will be able to draw inferences from any failure to cooperate and provide access to the detainees.

It is said this probe paid by a Saudi citizen. Is he or she from royal family?

The identity of the person who commissioned the panel is anonymous for obvious personal safety reasons. I can confirm that the panel is independent of the detainees and their families. The panel has had no contact with them.

So this investigation has been conducted because there was a request from Saudi citizen?

All Panels such as this can only be commissioned if there is a local interest in relevant jurisdiction. That means they must have a link to the country or the detainees. Being a citizen would be sufficient for that.

So far, what the information gained by the investigation panel about those two Saudi princes detained?

The evidence we gather will be published in a report at the conclusion of the review. it is inappropriate to reveal details provided to the panel before it concludes. Separately from the panel, the lawyers representing the princes have publicly stated that they are concerned about the circumstances of their detention including access to medical treatment, where they are being held,communication with the family and it seems a concern with regards to the legal process being applied to them.

What for the findings from this panel will be used?

The report will contain conclusions about the detainees detention conditions and if necessary contain recommendations. In the event the the report will finds the condition to be below international standards the panel may refer their findings to the UK government and recommend the government to take the matter up with the Saudis.

In addition the panel can recommend the imposition of measure such as sanctions. The panel may also refer their concerns to the the United Nations for further investigation. In all circumstances the Saudi government will be provided with a copy of the report and the panel's recommendations.

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