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Seven Years in the Shadows: Ahmed Al-Muzaini’s Enforced Disappearance

It’s been nearly seven years since Saudi youth Ahmed bin Dhaher Al-Muzaini was forcibly disappeared by Saudi State Security forces without any legal justification. His family has been denied any contact with him, and his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention remain unknown.

Al-Muzaini was arrested during the brutal crackdown of September 2017, which targeted dozens of writers, intellectuals, activists, journalists, preachers, and academics shortly after Mohammed bin Salman came to power. Since then, many of these detainees have been sentenced to long prison terms, while others are still being tried in politically motivated courts. Some, like Ahmed Al-Muzaini, remain forcibly disappeared.

In the early stages of his detention, Al-Muzaini suffered severe psychological and physical abuse. More than six and a half years ago, all news about him ceased. Sources close to him report that he was secretly tried in 2020, but Saudi authorities refuse to disclose his legal status or allow his family and legal team access to his case file.

At “Together for Justice,” we assert that subjecting detainees to enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and international human rights law. Enforced disappearance occurs when a person is abducted or imprisoned by a state, political organization, or a third party with state approval, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law.

Enforced disappearance, being a crime against humanity, is not subject to a statute of limitations, meaning those involved in this grave violation are liable for international legal accountability.

We urge the international community to continue closely monitoring the situation, hold the Saudi government accountable for any human rights violations, and cease cooperation with the Saudi regime unless it provides genuine and serious guarantees for improving conditions.

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