UN experts call on Saudi Arabia to disclose the fate of an Australian preacher extradited from Morocco
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: May 18, 2021
United Nations experts call on the Saudi authorities to reveal the fate of the Saudi-Australian citizen, Osama Talal Abbas Al-Mahruqi, an imam of a mosque in Melbourne, whom Morocco had arrested on the basis of a security warrant from Saudi Arabia, and handed him over to the Kingdom despite fears that he would be subjected to torture and ill-treatment there.
In a memorandum sent to the Saudi authorities on March 19, 2021, the experts stated that Al-Mahruqi, a Saudi-Australian citizen, is said to have been extradited from Morocco to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, despite the provisional measures ordered by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT), on the basis of the potential risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Since his extradition on March 13 2021, no information on Al- Mahruqi’s fate or whereabouts is available.
Leaving the Kingdom fearing threats and harassment:
The UN experts said that Al-Mahruqi was born on December 1, 1981. He resided in Melbourne, Australia, for almost 14 years, and holds a PhD in Business Information Systems from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was reportedly an imam at a mosque in Melbourne. He also worked as an associate professor at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and consultant on matters of international business and trade at the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, in addition to being a Quran reader.
The UN memo added that in 2015, Al- Mahruqi was reportedly forced to leave his position as a consultant to the Government of Saudi Arabia following intimidation and harassment allegedly resulting from his critical opinion. In February 2021, he was pressured to sign a document agreeing to his voluntary return to Saudi Arabia, but he refused and was brought before the Moroccan Court of Cassation, which issued an order for his extradition to Saudi Arabia on charges of stealing a car with the help of 6 others.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture sent the Moroccan government a memorandum requesting it formally to implement interim measures according to which Al-Mahruqi should not be extradited to Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the Moroccan Court of Cassation issued a decision to extradite him, and since the alleged extradition of Al-Mahruqi on the morning of March 13, no information on his fate or his whereabouts had been made available.
UN demands from the Saudi authorities:
The experts called on the Saudi government to provide full information, without delay, on the fate and whereabouts of Al-Mahruqi, including the exact location in which he had been held since his arrival in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on March 13, the conditions of his detention and the treatment he received, along with an explanation of how this is compatible with Saudi Arabia’s international human rights obligations.
The experts also called on Saudi Arabia to provide detailed information on the legal and practical procedures followed to hand over Al-Mahruqi to the Saudi authorities and extradite him from Morocco to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and to clarify the authorities that supervised and conducted the extradition, as well as the detailed information on the factual and legal grounds of the arrest and detention of Al-Mahruqi, as well as any formal charges against him, and the legal provisions used to charge him.
The experts also requested that full information be provided on the measures taken, or expected to be taken, to ensure that criminal proceedings are conducted by independent and impartial judicial authorities, in full compliance with the due process rules recognised by international law, and the observance of fundamental safeguards, including unrestrained and confidential access to a lawyer of his own choice and to an independent medical doctor, as well as regular contact with his family.