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Saudi Arabia

    June 21, 2018

    Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to drive is welcome but must now be followed by more reforms to women’s rights, Amnesty International said today.

    This weekend (Sunday 24 June) women will be allowed to drive in the country as the controversial driving ban is lifted.

    However, leading women’s rights activists and campaigners against the driving ban - including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef - are among eight activists still being detained in Saudi Arabia for their peaceful human rights work. Some have been detained without charge for more than one month, and may face trial before the counter-terror court and up to 20 years in prison for their activism.

    The women’s rights activists detained have campaigned for the right to drive and the end of the repressive male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia for many years.

    June 01, 2018

    The international community and allies of the Saudi Arabian government must speak up to help secure the immediate and unconditional release of the women’s rights defenders currently detained in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said today.

    More than two weeks have now passed since a number of prominent women’s rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Youssef were arrested, and yet they remain detained without charge and incommunicado with no access to their families or lawyers.

    Yesterday, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for their unconditional release and that of all human rights defenders. It also called for a more vocal European response.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights activists is entirely unjustifiable, and the world must not remain silent on the repression of human rights defenders in the country”, said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    June 01, 2018

    Since the 1990s, women in Saudi Arabia have been advocating for the right to drive cars. The driving ban was overturned last year, and women will finally be allowed to drive starting June 24, 2018.

    But just weeks before the ban is set to be lifted, Saudi authorities have detained—without charge—and held incommunicado, some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent and outspoken women human rights defenders, including University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul. At least 11 women human rights defenders have been arrested and six remain in detention. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, none have been charged with an offense. They have no access to lawyers or their families, and they are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

    The activists arrested have all peacefully advocated for women’s right to drive, an end to the male guardianship system, and gender equality. Arresting the most prominent women’s rights advocates could decimate the women’s rights movement in Saudi Arabia.

    May 31, 2018

    Since the 1990s, women in Saudi Arabia have been advocating for the right to drive cars. The driving ban was overturned last year, and women will finally be allowed to drive starting June 24, 2018.

    But just weeks before the ban is set to be lifted, Saudi authorities have detained—without charge—and held in communicado some of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent and outspoken women human rights defenders, including University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul. Arresting these activists will not silence peaceful activism in support of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and it will not silence Amnesty International! 

    Join Amnesty International in acting quickly to secure the release of the women human rights defenders before they are charged with an offense. Saudi official monitor social media regularly, and that’s why we are using social media to call on King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to immediately and unconditionally release of all the women human rights defenders detained for their peaceful activism. #BeepForFreedom!

    May 28, 2018

    Women in Saudi Arabia have publicly campaigned to lift the ban on them driving since 1990, when around 40 women drove their cars down a main street in Riyadh, the capital. They were stopped by police and a number of them were suspended from work.

    Since then, these protests have been sustained. In 2007, campaigners sent a petition to the late King Abdullah, while the following year campaigner Wajeha al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video on YouTube to mark International Women's Day. 

    Saudi women again used YouTube to post videos of themselves behind the wheel to protest against the ban in 2011. Some were arrested and others were forced to sign pledges to desist from driving. At least one woman was tried and sentenced to 10 lashes.

    May 25, 2018

    Loujain al-Hathloul is one of the three women detained in the last 10 days.

    Download UA 105/18 Saudi Arabia

    105 Saudi Arabia.pdf

    Prominent women human rights defenders Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef have been arbitrarily detained incommunicado since mid-May. 

    Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef (pictured first, second and third, respectively) have been detained by the Saudi Arabian authorities incommunicado and in an unknown location since mid-May. Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef are leading campaigners in calling for women’s rights to drive, the end of discrimination against women and the abolishment of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. Two other human rights activists were also detained in the same week.

    May 25, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of prominent human rights defender Mohammed al-Bajadi in Saudi Arabia today, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

    “Mohammed al-Bajadi is a tireless campaigner for human rights who, along with all those detained in the recent crackdown, has only been targeted because of his important work.

    “Despite global outrage, authorities have again responded with even more repression against Saudi Arabia’s human rights community who have been repeatedly persecuted for their work.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to promote his ‘reforms’ to the international public, while silencing anyone at home who dares to question his policies. It is time for this rank hypocrisy to stop.

    May 23, 2018

    Responding to news reports that more people have been detained in Saudi Arabia – bringing to 11 the number imprisoned since last week – Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “Amnesty International is extremely concerned following reports that yet more individuals and activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia.

    “Despite the international outcry at last week’s arrests, authorities have responded with even more repression in a desperate attempt to silence dissent and feminist voices speaking up for human rights.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presents himself as a ‘reformer’, but his promises are meaningless if those who fought for women’s right to drive are now all behind bars for peacefully campaigning for freedom of movement and equality.

    “We call on the authorities to reveal the whereabouts of these individuals and either charge them with a recognizable offence - or release them immediately.”

    Background

    May 18, 2018

    Responding to reports that several prominent women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia have been detained this week, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said: “This is an extremely worrying development for women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights defenders is entirely unjustifiable.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has presented himself as a ‘reformer’, but his promises of reform seem entirely superficial as the repression of human rights activists continues unabated.

    “Saudi Arabia cannot continue to publicly proclaim support for women’s rights and other reforms, while targeting women human rights defenders and activists for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    “We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all activists that may still be detained solely for their human rights work.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    January 30, 2018

    By Kareem Chehayeb, Amnesty International's Gulf researcher

    At the World Economic Forum at Davos this week, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced ambitious new plans for a “fundamental transformation” of the country. 

    “The world is not used to seeing Saudi Arabia moving quickly and boldly,” he told assembled world leaders.

    It was the latest move in Saudi Arabia’s recent PR offensive, which has seen Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promise modernization and lift the notorious ban on women driving. But changes so far have been superficial and serious human rights violations, both at home and abroad, remain major obstacles to meaningful reform in Saudi Arabia. 

    While women drivers and newly legalized cinemas may make headlines, they barely scratch the surface of the reform needed within the country. Human rights violations aren’t sporadic; they are systematic, and Saudi Arabia needs to effect a fundamental structural change if it is serious about progress.

    Here are some key steps that Saudi Arabia needs to take if it wants to fulfil its ambitions: 

    January 25, 2018

    Responding to the sentencing today of two prominent human rights activists Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh to 14 and seven years in prison respectively, Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for the Middle-East at Amnesty International said:

    “The harsh sentencing of Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, who should never have been prosecuted in the first place, confirms our fears that the new leadership of Mohamed Bin Salman is determined to silence civil society and human rights defenders in the Kingdom.

    “The crackdown on members of the human rights community has continued unabated, with almost all the country’s most prominent human rights defenders now behind bars. These actions, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, fly in the face of his recently declared ambitions to modernize the Kingdom.

    “If Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is truly intent on bringing reforms to Saudi Arabia, he must ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders, detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

    January 09, 2018

    Amnesty International launches a campaign today to mark the three year anniversary of the public flogging of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. He received the first 50 out of 1000 lashes on 9 January 2015 for setting up a website focused on social and political debate.

    In the wake of his flogging, which provoked an international outcry, Amnesty International supporters around the world rose up, driving global condemnation of the authorities and demanding the unconditional release of Raif Badawi and all other prisoners of conscience. He has not been flogged again, but is still in prison serving a 10 year sentence.

    “If the Saudi Arabian authorities are truly intent on pushing through reforms and positive changes, they should immediately release Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience being held simply for airing their opinions freely,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    October 02, 2017

    The Saudi Arabian authorities executed a man today, bringing the total number of people put to death so far in 2017 to 100, with 60 people executed in the past three months alone, said Amnesty International.

    “Since July 2017, the Saudi Arabian government has been on an execution spree with an average of five people put to death per week. This sets the country firmly on track to remain one of the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for Amnesty International in the Middle-East.

    “If the Saudi authorities are truly intent on making reforms, they must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.”

    Forty percent of the executions carried out so far this year were related to drug-related offences, which do not fall into the category of "most serious crimes". The use of the death penalty for such offences violates international human rights law.

    Unfair trials

    September 26, 2017

    Responding to the Saudi Arabian government’s announcement that women will be allowed to drive, Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    “It is a testament to the bravery of women activists who have been campaigning for years that the government of Saudi Arabia has finally relented and decided to permit women to drive.

    “This is a long overdue small step in the right direction and we welcome this move if it means all women in Saudi Arabia will finally be able to drive without any restrictions.

    “If by June next year women in Saudi Arabia are driving the streets without fear of arrest, then this will be a cause for celebration. But it is just one step. We also need to see a whole range of discriminatory laws and practices swept away in Saudi Arabia including the guardianship system where every woman has a male guardian, be it their father, brother, husband or son, having authority to make decisions on her behalf.

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