UN experts denounce Saudi Arabia’s deportation of a Yemeni blogger to Yemen amid death threats
Translation and editing by: Committee for Justice
Geneva, March 28 2021
UN human rights experts have expressed concerns about the alleged imminent deportation of the Yemeni human rights defender and blogger, Mohamad Mansour Thabet Qasim (also known as Mohamad al-Bokari), from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Yemen.
In their memo sent to the Saudi authorities on January 21, 2021, the experts also referred to their concerns about the alleged arbitrary arrest and detention of al-Bokari, and the risk of returning to Yemen for fear of attacks and other forms of persecution due to threats received by Yemeni armed groups.
Fled Yemen and arrested in Saudi Arabia:
The experts stated that al-Bokari fled Yemen to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in June 2019, after receiving death threats from armed groups in Yemen. While he was in Saudi Arabia, he published a video clip on social media advocating for respect for human rights with the following words: ‘Everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.’
The experts added that on April 6, 2020, police arrested him in Riyadh, where he was living as an undocumented immigrant, and he was charged with committing electronic crimes punishable under Article 6 of the Cybercrime Law by publicly advocating homosexuality. A Saudi court sentenced him to 10 months in prison and a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals (US $2,700), in addition to deportation to Yemen upon his release.
The experts pointed out that according to the information at their disposal, it is expected that al-Bokari will be released on January 26, and then deported to Yemen, despite the available information that during his detention, al-Bokari continued to receive death threats from Yemeni armed forces via social media and phone calls, indicating possible violence against him if he returns to Yemen.
UN demands from Saudi Arabia:
The experts emphasized that if these allegations are confirmed, they will constitute a violation of everyone’s rights to life and physical integrity, and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The experts called on Saudi authorities to provide detailed information as to how comprehensive individual risk assessments are carried out by relevant Saudi authorities, both in terms of procedural safeguards and analysis of the country of return situation, so as to ensure that individuals will not be subjected to violations of their fundamental rights in transit or upon return.
The experts also called for information on the guarantees in place and the measures taken to protect the life and physical and psychological integrity of al-Bokari, especially the measures being considered to prevent his deportation or his transfer to a place where his personal security and integrity may be at risk.
Saudi Arabia’s response to the UN memorandum:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to the warrant that al-Bokari, was arrested for violating the residency requirements, and for committing offences punishable by Saudi law.
The Kingdom’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva added that the national Human Rights Commission visited al-Bokari in his prison to ensure that the prevailing laws and regulations related to human rights were properly applied, and that there were no human rights violations against him.
The committee confirmed that appropriate procedures have been followed in line with relevant laws and regulations, and in the interview with al-Bokari he expressed his desire to leave for any other country except for his country, and that he left the Kingdom on February 17, 2021, from King Khalid Airport.