The detention of the former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in violation of international law weakens the security of both the kingdom and the west, a cross-party investigation panel of British MPs has found.
Mohammed bin Nayef was arrested in March as part of a consolidation of power ordered by the current crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
The panel found that Bin Nayef has lost significant weight since March. He “is suffering from pain in his joints, especially his knees, which makes it difficult for him to walk comfortably without assistance, and there is evidence of damage to his feet, which increases pain when walking,” the panel said.
The panel also alleges that evidence presented to the panel shows that “he has not been able to contest his detention before an independent and impartial judge, does not have access to a lawyer to discuss his situation and that his case has not been reviewed to determine whether it is appropriate to continue his detention. ”He was not allowed to see either his family or his doctor.
MPs said Bin Nayef had recently been released from solitary confinement after nine months, but added that he had been warned he would be sent back to solitary confinement unless he agreed to release money for the kingdom, an alleged threat posed by the panel is described as coercion.
They argue that it is in the interests of the international community and Saudi Arabia itself that it urgently address its human rights situation so that it “can defend and explain its actions in a way that will not be fully shamed in the wider global public opinion. ”.
They also say Saudi Arabia’s inability to comply with international human rights standards is weakening the kingdom and the security of the west.
Saudi Arabia declined to cooperate with the panel’s work, although the Saudi ambassador to the UK did hold an informal off-the-record meeting with the panel chair about the panel’s purpose. The lack of cooperation is described by the panel as very disappointing.
The Saudi authorities are likely to dismiss the report as a deliberate self-proclaimed attempt to discredit the kingdom and its rulers.
But Crispin Blunt, the former chair of the select foreign affairs committee that led the panel, is widely seen as an ally of the Gulf states and has fought hard for Saudi Arabia’s right to receive British arms for the to defend war in Yemen.
The cross-party panel has received legal advice on human rights from Bindmans, the law firm and secretary of the investigation.
In the absence of cooperation from the Saudi authorities, the panel held a practice session with mostly Saudi dissidents, spoke to senior British government officials, human rights groups and, apparently, allies of Bin Nayef.
The report claims that the detention of political opposition in the country is endemic, and it is one of the reasons why it failed to get elected to the executive of the UN Human Rights Council this year.
There is growing speculation that Bin Nayef, a former Home Secretary and once a close ally of Western Intelligence, could be charged.
He was arrested along with the king’s older brother, Prince Ahmed, in what was seen as an attempt by Bin Salman to dispel all threats to his accession to the throne.
MPs also advised that any attempt by Saudi Arabia to use Interpol to solicit assistance with regard to its own citizens living abroad “ should be investigated with preemptive skepticism until it establishes the basic legal instruments of international human rights and the pattern of oppressive behavior towards its own citizens has ceased ”.
They also suggested that G7 member states suspend prisoner transfer agreements and extradition treaties with Saudi Arabia and review all criminal law agreements in light of the evidence provided of Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to pursue its basic international legal obligations towards its own citizens.
They also urged social media companies to oppose campaigns of public harassment by state actors or inexplicably other groups or individuals that appear to be coordinated by state actors.