MOROCCO: Man at risk of forcible return and torture

Download a copy of the 1st UA 12/23 below

On January 14, 2023, Moroccan security officers detained Saudi citizen Hassan Al Rabea at Marrakesh airport at the request of Saudi Arabia who has charged him with terrorism-related crimes. He remains in detention in Rabat, the capital, and is at risk of forcible return to Saudi Arabia where he could face serious human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment. The Moroccan authorities must release him and under no means carry out his extradition request.

If deported, Hassan Al Rabea faces a very credible risk of torture and ill-treatment, persecution, as well as a grossly unfair trial before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). In November 2022, an SCC judge convicted Hassan Al Rabea’s older brother on terrorism charges and used his discretionary powers to sentence him to death, even though the prosecution had not demanded a death penalty. Two of his cousins were executed last year.

Write to the Head of Government urging him to:

  • immediately release Hassan Al Rabea
  • under no circumstances deport him to Saudi Arabia where he would be at real risk of grave human rights violations

These demands are in line with Morocco’s obligations under international customary law and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment not to transfer anyone to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Write to:

Head of Government Aziz Akhanouch

Palais Royal Touarga

Rabat 10070, Morocco

Fax: 00 212 53 7771010

Twitter: @ChefGov_ma

Salutation: Your Excellency

And copy:

Her Excellency Souriya OTMANI


Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

38 Range Road

Ottawa, ON K1N 8J4

Tel: (613) 236-7391, -7392, -7913, 6064 Fax: (613) 236-6164



Hassan Al Rabea, 26, who left Saudi Arabia in 2021 and had settled in Morocco for about six months, was arrested based on a warrant issued by Saudi Arabia to the Arab Interior Ministers Council, a cooperative body related to the internal security and criminal matters of many Arab states. He is currently being detained in Rabat’s Tiflet 2 prison pending an advisory opinion from Rabat’s Court of Cassation about Saudi Arabia’s extradition request, after which a final decision is made by the Prime Minister.

If deported, he would likely be tried before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty research shows that every stage of the judicial process before the SCC is tainted with gross human rights abuses such as the denial of access to a lawyer, incommunicado detention, and convictions based solely on so-called ‘confessions’ extracted under torture. The SCC appeal process is also opaque and shrouded in secrecy.

Since 2016, Amnesty has documented the execution of 31 men from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a Muslim minority to which Hassan Al Rabea belongs, following grossly unfair trials before the SCC under vague counter-terror and anti-cybercrime laws. Saudi Arabian authorities have historically discriminated against the Shi’a Muslim minority and subjected them to persecution.

More than 100 Saudi Arabian Shi’a activists have been tried before the SCC on vague and wide-ranging charges arising from their opposition to the government, including peaceful criticism in speeches or on social media, participation in anti-government protests and alleged involvement in violent attacks or espionage.

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