Egypt: Stop the farce trial of 10 Egyptian Nubians before the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

After the Specialized Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia decided to postpone for two months the trial of ten Egyptian Nubians, who have been detained by the Saudi authorities for two years, the undersigned human rights organizations condemn the continued detention of these Egyptians as well as the trial before this Court, which has a jurisdiction over terrorism-related cases. We also condemn their prosecution in the absence of some of their lawyers, both from the investigations and the trial, and without informing the detainees of the charges against them. The organizations further condemn the reaction of the Egyptian Consulate in Saudi Arabia, which issued a statement indirectly repudiating its responsibility for the ten Egyptians. The Consulate failed to intervene, directly and openly, for the release of its citizens and declined to provide them with legal support. The undersigned human rights organizations reiterate their demand that the Egyptian authorities immediately intervene for the unconditional release of the detainees, more than a year after their arrest.

The trial, which started yesterday, lacks minimum fair trial guarantees, as the defendants had never been able to appoint a lawyer, starting from the moment of their arrest and throughout the duration of their interrogation. According to relatives of the detainees, the Egyptians face ten counts of charges related to terrorism and the organization of an unauthorized gathering. It is very troubling that they may be sentenced to years in prison by a terrorism court, which is notorious for delivering deeply unfair sentences.

The facts of the case date back to October 25, 2019 when a group of Nubian associations in Saudi Arabia decided to organize a celebration to commemorate the Nubian heroes of the October War of 1973. The Saudi authorities arrested ten Egyptian Nubians and asked them during the investigations about the reasons they did not include the current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s picture in the photos uploaded during the celebration, even though the current president did not participate in the war. The photos were limited to war heroes from the Nuba regions as an act of acknowledging them.

Surprisingly, the Saudi authorities released the accused after two months of detention, specifically on December 25, 2019, before re-arresting them on July 14, 2020.  The second time, the General Directorate of Investigation in Saudi Arabia, which is affiliated with the Presidency of State Security, took over the case. It arrested and detained the accused without investigation, and it also prevented them from having a lawyer or even visits by their relatives. The only thing they were allowed was a weekly phone call. Four months after their arrest, they were transferred from Al-Hair Prison in Riyadh to Asir Prison in the Saudi city of Abha. When their families tried to communicate with Egyptian government officials, including the Minister of Immigration and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptians confirmed their knowledge of the matter and their attempt to follow-up on the case, but no tangible action was taken. The relatives also submitted complaints to the Egyptian Cabinet, to no avail.

The undersigned human rights organizations demand the Egyptian government to intervene immediately for the unconditional release of the Egyptian detainees. We affirm our strong condemnation of the deprivation of these Egyptian citizens of their right to a fair trial, and their trial before a court that does not respect the minimum guarantees of justice. We also condemn the continued arbitrary detention of the ten Egyptians without investigation. The Saudi authorities bear the full responsibility for their safety and their life.

The Undersigned:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Committee for Justice
  3. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  4. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  5. EL Nadeem Center
  6. Freedom Initiative

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