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Saudi Arabia

    May 16, 2019

    This graphic depicts (left to right) Samar Badawi, Iman al-Nafjan, Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Youssef and Nassima al-Sada

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 105/18 HERE

    Eleven Saudi women activists on trial before the Criminal Court in Riyadh risk being sentenced to prison terms on charges related to their women’s rights activism. Many of them have campaigned against the long-standing ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, and the end of the male guardianship system. While seven women activists were temporarily and conditionally released, four others remain in detention. The 11 women remain at risk of being sentenced to prison.

    May 14, 2019

    Today marks the first anniversary of the arrests of several prominent women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, after a shameful year for human rights in the Kingdom in which activists, journalists, academics, and writers were targeted, Amnesty International said today.

    In the past year, Saudi Arabian activists, including several women human rights defenders, have suffered the terrible ordeal of arbitrary detention, unable to speak to or see their loved ones for long months and with no access to legal representation. Women activists also detailed accounts of their torture, ill-treatment and sexual abuse to the court, and many of them now face a prison term for their peaceful activism and speech.  

    May 13, 2019

    Reacting to the onward voyage of the Saudi Arabian state shipping company’s vessel, the Bahri Yanbu, from the Spanish port of Santander this afternoon, Ara Marcen Naval, Deputy Director for Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Laden with arms that will likely be used in the war in Yemen, the Bahri Yanbu has been bouncing off European ports like a pinball. After loading up with Belgian munitions in Antwerp, it has visited or attempted to visit ports in the UK, France and now Spain, and is due to dock at the Italian port of Genoa later this week. 

    “This is a serious test of EU countries’ resolve to uphold their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and EU Common Position on Arms Exports. Several states have failed this test in the space of just a few days.

    “No EU state should be making the deadly decision to authorize the transfer or transit of arms to a conflict where there is a clear risk they will be used in war crimes and other serious violations of international law.

    April 08, 2019

    Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Rights Watch UK will this week join the appeal against the UK’s continuing arms exports to Saudi Arabia in a fresh legal challenge.

    The organizations will intervene in the case, brought by Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), at the Court of Appeal in London seeking to challenge the legality of the UK Government’s decision to issue licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, despite the risk of the weapons being used for serious violations of international humanitarian law in the conflict.

    “The people of Yemen are being killed and are at serious risk of famine because of the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition’s relentless bombing campaign that has been made possible by British arms and equipment,” said Lucy Claridge, Amnesty International’s Director of Strategic Litigation.

    “How many more people must die before the UK Government admits it is in the wrong? By selling billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, ministers are signing a death warrant for the people of Yemen.

    April 05, 2019

    Responding to reports that the Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested at least seven individuals, some of whom are journalists, writers and academics, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Those arrested include Salah al-Haidar, the son of human rights activist Aziza Al-Yousef, who was temporarily released just a few days ago after more than 10 months of a terrible ordeal. Others include Abdullah al-Duhailan, a journalist, novelist and advocate for Palestinian rights and Fahad Abalkhail, who has supported the Women to Drive Campaign.

    “In their continuing crackdown, it is no coincidence that the Saudi Arabian authorities are shamelessly targeting those citizens who are part and parcel of the society’s vibrant intellectual, artistic, activist landscape. By targeting them, they are signaling to their entire people that there will be zero tolerance of any form of criticism, let alone questioning, of the state’s authoritarian practices.

    April 02, 2019

    Marking six months since the shocking murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “Six months after the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, there are still no real signs of justice or international accountability. It has become clear that the issue is being swept under the carpet by the Saudi authorities and foreign governments for the sake of security cooperation, lucrative business ties and arms deals.

    March 28, 2019

    Responding to the release of three Saudi women activists, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef and Ruqayyaa al-Mhareb, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “The release from jail of Iman al-Najfan, Aziza al-Yousef and Ruqayyah al-Mhareb, who will finally be able to return to their homes and loved ones after their 10-month ordeal of arbitrary detention and torture, is welcome news.

    “This is a long overdue step as these women should never have been jailed in the first place and their release should certainly not be on a ‘temporary’ basis. They have been locked up, separated from their loved ones, subjected to torture and threats for simply peacefully calling for women’s rights and expressing their views.

    “Amnesty International calls on the Saudi authorities to drop all the charges against them and the other women’s human rights defenders, who all must be released immediately and unconditionally.

    March 25, 2019

    Responding to news that two sisters from Saudi Arabia, known as Reem and Rawan, whose lives would have been in danger had they been sent back to the Kingdom, have now left Hong Kong to live safely in a new country, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, commented:

    “It is great news that Reem and Rawan are now in a safer place. They showed immense courage and took huge risks to escape the repeated abuse by their male relatives. The sisters must be allowed to build their lives without living in fear that their family or the Saudi authorities will force them back.

    March 14, 2019

    Speaking to Amnesty is not a crime

    The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    “The charges against the activists are the latest example of the Saudi authorities abusing legislation and the justice system to silence peaceful activists and deter them from working on the human rights situation in the country. This trial is yet another stain on the Saudi authorities’ appalling human rights record, and shows how empty the government’s claims of reform really are,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    March 06, 2019

    States should take a clear stand against human rights violations in Saudi Arabia by joining a UN Human Rights Council statement addressing the government’s crackdown on peaceful activists, including a group of detained women human rights defenders known to have been tortured and sexually abused, said Amnesty International.

    The crucial statement, due to be delivered at a Human Rights Council session on Thursday, is expected to address Saudi Arabia’s use of counter-terrorism legislation to persecute people peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

    “This initiative at the UN Human Rights Council offers a rare opportunity for states to take a strong public stand against the catalogue of human rights violations by the government of Saudi Arabia.  States who stay silent risk abdicating responsibility at a crucial moment and sending a dangerous message that Saudi Arabia can continue to commit egregious abuses without being held to account,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 28, 2019

    The Hong Kong authorities must not return two sisters to Saudi Arabia where their lives would be in grave danger, Amnesty International said.

    The women, who are aged 18 and 20 and are known as Reem and Rawan, fled Saudi Arabia after suffering repeated beatings by male family members and being treated “like slaves”. They arrived in Hong Kong last September when trying to reach Australia. They were blocked from continuing their journey by Saudi consular agents at Hong Kong International Airport. The sisters subsequently learned that their passports had been revoked, making it impossible for them to extend their visas to remain in Hong Kong.

    The sisters have been allowed to stay in Hong Kong as “tolerated” overstayers. That period of toleration is set to expire on 28 February. Hong Kong authorities could extend the period of toleration, which would allow the women to explore third country resettlement options.

    February 26, 2019

    Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Youssef, and other women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia were arrested in 2018 in a crackdown on women’s rights activism specifically, and on freedom of expression more broadly.

     

    They continue to be detained without charge, amidst credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

     

    February 20, 2019
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 21/19 HERE

    Woman human rights defender Nassima al-Sada was placed in solitary confinement early in February in al-Mabahith Prison in Dammam. 

    Nassima has been arbitrarily detained since July 2018 without charge or trial. Her detention was part of a recent wave of arrests that targeted human rights activists. Since May 2018, at least 15 human rights activists, including several women human rights defenders, have been detained without charge. Amnesty International calls on the Saudi authorities to release Nassima al-Sada and all other human rights activists immediately and unconditionally.

    Nassima has been campaigning for civil and political rights, the rights of the Shi’a community in the eastern province, and women’s rights. Her campaigning focused heavily on the right of women to drive and for the end of the repressive male guardianship system. Prior to her arrest, Nassima al-Sada had been repeatedly targeted, harassed, and placed under travel bans for her human rights activism. 

    February 14, 2019

    Reacting to the European Parliament’s condemnation of the ongoing repression and torture of a group of women’s rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia since May 2018, the Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office Covadonga de la Campa said:

    ‘The European Parliament’s resolution on Saudi Arabia is an important step which acknowledges the incredible courage of these imprisoned men and women, several of whom have been tortured for demanding the end of the male guardianship system, campaigning for women’s right to drive and tirelessly defending human rights.’

    ‘After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini assured the European Parliament that the EU would support human rights activists “regardless of geopolitics”. It is time for them to come good on this promise and speak out for Saudi detainees, as silent diplomacy has thus far failed to protect them.’

    February 14, 2019

    By T.K.

    We all have that one person we immediately connect with. Someone who you know will always be part of your life. The person you can easily talk to, even though it has been months if not years since you last saw one another. For me, Eman Al Nafjan is such a person. Someone I am proud of, who inspires and makes me laugh. 

    We met in 2010 while I was living in Saudi Arabia. Eman introduced me to Saudi culture and cuisine, and taught me useful Arabic phrases. She took me around the magical souks in Riyadh.

    We used to spend hours discussing all aspects of life. At that time, she was working as an English teacher at a university while completing her PhD in linguistics. Since 2010, our tradition has been to meet once a year to enjoy new places, visit museums and catch up. We are both morning people, but Eman is up earlier than most. Even on holiday, I would often find her sitting at a table, very early in the morning, with a cup of strong coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

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