Skip to main content

Rights groups to lodge UN complaint over detention of philanthropist Saudi prince

The prince and his father have been 'arbitrarily' detained for 2.5 years in Riyadh without due process, rights groups say
Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz signing the visitors book in the German city of Dresden (AFP/supplied by a friend of the prince)

Two rights groups are set to lodge a complaint to the United Nations seeking condemnation of the continued “arbitrary detention” of Saudi philanthropist Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, AFP reported on Monday.

The Geneva-based MENA Rights Group and the London-based advocacy group ALQST will file the complaint with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva on Tuesday, after which the working group is expected to declare an “opinion” on the case. 

Saad al-Jabri: The Saudi who could bring down Mohammed bin Salman
David Hearst
Read More »

The complaint comes weeks after former Saudi intelligence official Saad al-Jabri filed a lawsuit in the US against Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman accusing him of dispatching a hit squad to Canada to kill him.

The Saudi government is not legally required to respond to the UN group’s conclusions. 

But the campaigners seek to draw international attention to the case of Prince Salman, who has been in detention for 2.5 years, along with many other royals arrested since the crown prince came to power in a palace coup in 2017. 

In January 2018, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, now 37, was swept up along with his father in the royal crackdown, leaving his supporters asking why the minor royal who posed no apparent challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was targeted.

Prince Salman, educated at Paris's Sorbonne University, was held for around a year in the high-security Al-Hai'r prison near Riyadh and later in a guarded villa in the capital, sources close to him told AFP.

The prince was moved to a secret detention site in March but was mysteriously returned to the villa two months later, the sources said, after a $2 million US lobbying effort and petitions from European lawmakers calling for his release.

The sources added that the prince and his father have never been interrogated since their arrest. 

The Saudi government has yet to comment on the complaint.