South West Wales

Swansea woman 'locked up' by father in Saudi Arabia

A school yearbook photograph of Amina Al-Jeffery
Image caption A school yearbook photograph of Amina Al-Jeffery

A Swansea woman has been imprisoned by her father in a house in Saudi Arabia for four years, a court has been told.

Amina Al-Jeffery, 21, who has dual British and Saudi Arabian nationality, claims her father Mohammed Al-Jeffery locked her up after she "kissed a guy".

She has described "metal bars" on her bedroom and being a "locked-up girl with a shaved head", her lawyers said.

They are asking the High Court in London to come to her aid. Her father disputes his daughter's allegations.

Ms Al-Jeffery was taken to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, by her family four years ago, Mr Justice Holman was told.

Barristers representing her said it had been difficult to receive instructions from her - but she had spoken to a member of staff at the British Consulate in Jeddah.

She told them there had been a "practice" of "locking her in her room", and her younger sister had been told she was an "evil girl".

'Deprived of water'

A sister had seen her in Saudi Arabia and found "a locked-up girl with a shaved head", she told them.

She also said "metal bars are no longer in her room" but "she is still locked up in the house" and "not allowed to use the phone or internet", her lawyers said.

She spoke of being "prevented from going to the bathroom" and being "forced to urinate in a cup", and said her father had hit her, the court heard.

Lawyers representing Ms Al-Jeffery said they have taken legal action in London in a bid to protect her.

Her father, an academic in his 60s, had objected to her returning to the UK, Henry Setright QC said.

Image copyright John Allan/Geograph
Image caption The case is being heard at the Family Division of the High Court in London

Her mother and siblings were back in South Wales, he said.

"She has expressed a wish to return to England but has been prevented from doing so by her father," he argued in a written document give to Mr Justice Holman.

Her father's treatment "has extended to depriving her of food and water, depriving her of toilet facilities, physical assault and control of her ability to marry who she wishes and creating a situation in which she feels compelled to marry as a means of escape", he added.

He said it amounted to a breach of her "fundamental human rights".

The judge, Mr Justice Holman, said on Wednesday that issues raised were "important and difficult" and that he had to consider whether he had the power to make orders relating to a woman abroad.

'Destructive lifestyle'

The "right thing" might be to order that she was taken to the British Consulate in Jeddah, he said. If she sought sanctuary, Foreign Office staff would then have to make decisions, he added.

Mr Al-Jeffery, who disputes the claims against him, had written a letter earlier this year refusing to return his daughter to the UK, Mr Setright said.

"I am unwilling to do this as I fear she will go back to her old destructive lifestyle," he wrote.

"As her father, I fear for her health and safety and only want what is best for Amina, so she may focus on her education."

His lawyer, Marcus Scott-Manderson QC, said none of the claims against his client were "remotely admitted", and urged the judge to proceed with caution when deciding whether to make orders.

He said the Saudi government was paying Mr Al-Jeffery's legal bills, via the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Neither Miss Al-Jeffery nor Mr Al-Jeffery have been at the hearing in London, which is expected to end on Thursday.

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