(Washington D.C., April 13, 2022) – According to eyewitnesses who spoke to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Saudi State Security Agency officials arrested at least nine prominent judges on Monday, April 11. Saudi security officials went to the workplaces of these judges to make these arrests publicly.
DAWN confirmed that the arresting officials told the judges that their charges included "high treason," a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. These judges were loyal supporters of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) and these arrests bear striking similarities to previous purges of rivals or perceived rivals of MBS.
"With MBS as Crown Prince, no one in Saudi Arabia is safe, even those officials most loyal to him, including high-ranking judges who have justified arbitrary arrests for engaging in peaceful activism and sentenced people to death because they held minority views," said Abdullah Alaoudh, Gulf Director at DAWN.
Of the nine judges confirmed arrested, three came from the First-Degree Specialized (Terrorism) Court, three came from the Appellate Specialized Court, and three came from the High Court, the highest court in Saudi Arabia.
DAWN profiled two of these judges, Abdullah bin Khalid al-Luhaidan and Abdulaziz bin Medawi al-Jaber, in its Culprits Gallery for their roles in enabling human rights abuses. Al-Luhaidan convicted prominent women's rights defender Loujain Alhathloul of baseless terrorism charges, while al-Jaber sentenced a minor to the death penalty. Al-Jaber also sentenced many people to death in the mass execution of 81 men last month.
DAWN has repeatedly called for these judges to be held responsible for their roles in enabling state repression against numerous Saudi human rights defenders, civil society leaders, and democracy reformers, including denying these individuals their fundamental due rights during trial. Nonetheless, DAWN condemns these arrests for their lack of due process and transparency.