Geneva – Moroccan authorities must reverse their decision to extradite Saudi citizen Hassan Al Rabie to Saudi Arabia, Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement, voicing concern for his safety.
Euro-Med Monitor expressed deep concerned over the 2 February decision by the Moroccan Court of Cassation to deport Al Rabie back to Saudi Arabia, where he faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of coordinating “with a terrorist to facilitate his irregular exit from the Kingdom”. According to Al Rabie’s lawyer, the decision cannot be appealed, and the extradition decree will be submitted to the Moroccan prime minister for signature in accordance with the relevant legal procedures.
Saudi Arabia’s track record of arbitrarily detaining and prosecuting political opponents and dissidents raises serious doubts about the veracity of the allegations on which Al Rabie was convicted, as Saudi authorities have turned the country’s judiciary system into a tool for suppressing opponents and opinion-makers, exacting revenge on them, and denying liberties. Handing Al Rabie over to the authorities may not only deprive him of his freedom, but could endanger his very life if he is detained; there is a serious possibility that Saudi authorities will intensify his existing punishment and convict him of new charges that are punishable by death.
The Moroccan authorities’ decision is a step backwards in terms of human rights standards, especially since Morocco ratified the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2014 and established the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM) in 2018, according to Law No. 76-15 relating to the reorganisation of the National Human Rights Council.
Al Rabie legally left Saudi Arabia in late 2021 for Ukraine, then Indonesia, before arriving several months ago in Morocco, where he was apprehended on the morning of 14 January 2023 as he was about to leave for Turkey. He appeared before the Court of First Instance on that same day and was subsequently sent to the Tiflet 2 prison; the Court of Cassation—whose judgements are not open to appeal—issued a decision to deport him on 2 February.
According to Euro-Med Monitor’s follow-up, Moroccan authorities arrested Al Rabie under a precautionary arrest warrant issued by the Arab Interior Ministers Council at the request of Saudi Arabia on 22 November 2022. About a month earlier, on 19 October 2022, the Saudi public prosecutor’s office had issued a warrant for Al Rabie’s arrest, claiming that he had violated the counterterrorism law of 2017, and accusing him of coordinating “with a terrorist to facilitate his irregular exit from the Kingdom”—the punishment for which ranges from 10 to 20 years in prison under Article 38 of the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing.
Saudi authorities raided Al Rabie’s family home in the Saudi city of Awamia roughly two years ago, arresting him and two of his brothers, Ali and Hussein. They released Hassan along with Hussein after a single day, but kept Ali detained, eventually convicting him of terrorism-related crimes including “facilitating terrorist movements” and sentencing him to death on 5 November 2022. A fourth Al Rabie brother, Ahmed, lives in Canada and claims that what is happening to Hassan today is an attempt by authorities to pressure their other brother, Munir, to surrender. Saudi authorities accuse Munir of participating in violent acts that occurred in 2017 in the Shiite-majority city of Awamia relating to the city’s development plan.
The decision by Morocco to deport Al Rabie clearly violates its relevant international obligations, particularly the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which it ratified in 1993 and which stipulates in Article 3 that:
- No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
- For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
Moroccan authorities must fulfil their obligations to prevent the extradition or deportation of those who fear persecution or ill-treatment and face the risk of torture, and must reconsider their decision to extradite Saudi citizen Hassan Al Rabie to his home country, plus ensure that Al Rabie is able to access all effective legal remedies to defend himself.