The Basis of Brutality: Torture in Saudi Arabia

17 September 2015 – Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) are pleased to announce the publishing of a new report entitled The Basis of Brutality, which examines the Saudi government’s adherence to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN-CAT).

Click here to read a PDF of the report.

18 years have passed since the Saudi government acceded to the UN-CAT. Despite binding itself to those international statutes that mandate that Convention parties “take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction,” Saudi officials have vacillated between ignoring and abetting acts of torture and otherwise degrading punishment.

In The Basis of Brutality, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) outline a regime of torture so embedded in the current Saudi administration of criminal justice as to seem inseparable from it. The report does more, however, than simply list inhumane interrogation methods. Rather, it demonstrates how the entire system of Saudi Criminal justice, from prison guards to appellate judges, enables acts of torture and violent degradation.

To complete this report, staff at ADHRB and BIRD structured their research around a set of conclusions and recommendations delivered by the UN Committee against Torture to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2002. The Committee produced a strong report, coupled with an actionable set of recommendations for reforms that would raise accountability for government torturers and reduce the prevalence of degrading treatment within the Saudi legal system. 13 years later, in January 2015, the Saudi government submitted its belated response to these reform proposals in the form of its second periodic report to the Committee. As The Basis of Brutality demonstrates, many of these recommendations have not neared even partial implementation, and the Saudi government’s replies to the Committee’s concerns range from incomplete to evasive.

Stalled progress, however, is no invitation to inaction. The Committee’s recommendations are as sound for 2015 as they were for 2002. The international community cannot accept torture in Saudi Arabia as a given, must not allow it to become normalized in the minds of the global public. By submitting this report, ADHRB and BIRD hope to, in our own limited capacity, shake the international community from its complacency and bring effective pressure to bear on the Saudi government.

Click here to read a PDF of the report.