Two years have now passed since the Saudi detainee, Jaber Al-Omari, ended his seven-year prison sentence, which he received about ten years ago for demanding the release of his brother, who has been arbitrarily detained since 2002 over political charges. However, the Saudi authorities refused to release him.
Al-Omari’s plight dates back to April 2014, when he decided to break his silence and reveal his family’s suffering after his brother’s arrest and detention in an inhumane condition. He appeared in a video clip on his YouTube channel calling for his brother’s release, criticising the Saudi restrictions on freedoms.
A few days later, Al-Omari was stopped by the security forces while heading to visit his father in the hospital on April 12. He was forcibly returned to the house, where he was subjected to a brutal attack before his wife and children. He was then taken to the General Investigation Prison in Riyadh, where he remained for a month.
Al-Omari was later transferred to the Criminal Investigation detention facilities for two months, then to Al-Malaz prison in June 2014, and to the notorious Al-Ha’ir prison in July 2015.
Al-Omari was deprived of legal representation or to have regular family contact for long months. He was later brought before Specialized Criminal Court and sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by a travel ban for 7 years, along with a fine of 50,000 riyals.
Al-Omari was accused of inciting hatred and contempt against the regime, threatening public order, and offending Saudi state officials.
On October 5, 2017, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a resolution calling for the release of Jaber Al-Omari and criticizing his arrest and continued detention.
Opinion No. 92/2017 concerning Jaber Al-Omari, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered Al-Omari’s detention to be arbitrary as it violates his legitimate basic right to freedom of expression.
The Group also called for Al-Omari’s immediate release, denouncing the widespread practice of arbitrary arrest and solitary confinement.
Al-Omari’s detention constitutes a clear breach of international fair trial standards as it violates his legitimate right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.