‘Arm of English law should stretch that far’ – lawyer of woman ‘caged’ by dad in Saudi Arabia to RT
The court in London this week ruled that 21-year-old Amina Al-Jeffery, who has been living in Saudi Arabia with her controlling father, should be released from her “peril” and be returned to the UK, where she was born and lived for the best part of her life.
Saying that the young woman, who has been kept locked up in a “caged” space in her father's home in Jeddah has been “deprived of her liberty,” the judge ordered her father to pay for her tickets to the UK.
While there have been concerns that the ruling might be ignored in Saudi Arabia, as the woman's dual British-Saudi citizenship is not being recognized by authorities there, Amina's lawyer told RT her father must comply with the court's order, as it is he and not the government who is "the respondent to the application."
“There are no reciprocal arrangements between here [the UK] and Saudi Arabia, but the order is directed to her father, not to the Saudi Arabian government, this is private law ... and it is for her father to comply with the order that has been made,” lawyer Anne-Marie Hutchinson said.
The applicant is Amina herself, the lawyer said, adding that the father, Mohammed Al-Jeffery “was represented fully for the whole of the hearing” in England.
Hutchinson told RT that the "most important" part of the claim was "that the English court should assume a jurisdiction over her," because she is a British national adult who is in trouble overseas, 'in peril' as a judge put it.
"The arm of the English law should stretch that far to give her protection," she added.
Enforcing control over the young woman is "illegal" even according to the law in Saudi Arabia, chairman of the SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights NGO, Jawad Fairooz told RT.
"She passed the legal age, she is 21, either in the British law or even in Sharia Islamic law, she has the full authority to decide where she wants to live and how to live," he explained, adding that "it's definitely illegal" for anyone, even for the father to "control her... at this stage of her age."
The lawyer also said that she had experienced "great difficulty" while working on the case. Saying that her defendant in Saudi Arabia "has been restricted in her ability to access telephone [and] internet," she added that "having secure private conversations with Amina" had been a challenge.
"The court has asked her father to take her to the British Consulate in Jeddah, so that on [a] secure telephone line she could have conversations with me, her lawyer. The father has refused so far to do that," she told RT, adding that "most of the evidence has been provided by the father."
A picture of the young woman standing next to a caged wall with a lock has emerged online, prompting lawyers in the UK to take legal action in London in a bid to free her. It is believed the woman has been locked by her father, disapproving of her behavior.
She only managed to take that photograph by the "cage" when she was having a visitor in the house, the lawyer said, citing the judge's explanations. "She was allowed to the freedom to be outside of the caged part of the building," she said.
"Hypocritical diplomacy" has been involved in the case, human rights activist, Jawad Fairooz claimed.
"British authorities say they defend human rights, they want to enforce democracy and... their citizens' rights wherever they are, but when it comes to their allies, and particularly to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, it is so clear they forget about all these claims and never consider the human rights values or even democratic principles as the major priority when dealing with these countries," he said, adding that it's the mutual economic interests or "military deals" that prevail.
"If Amina Al-Jeffery were in any other country, definitely the position of the United Kingdom on her rights could be stronger," he said, adding "They don't want the Saudi to be angry about British policy in general."