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Saudi Arabia

    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 The sisters subsequently learned that their passports had been revoked, making it impossible for them to extend their visas to remain in Hong Kong.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.

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to reports that Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is no longer seeking the death penalty for Israa al-Ghomgham, an female activist who is being prosecuted for peacefully participating in anti-government protests in the country’s eastern province in 2015, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns said:

    “The news that Saudi Arabia’s authorities have dropped their outrageous call for Israa al-Ghomgham to be executed comes as a huge relief. However, while her life is no longer at risk, she is still facing a ludicrous prison sentence simply for participating in peaceful demonstrations.

    “Saudi Arabia’s prosecutors must now immediately drop their call for the death penalty against four other defendants facing trial alongside Israa al-Ghomgham. All have been detained for exercising their peaceful right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    January 24, 2019

    Amnesty International has obtained new reports of torture and abuse inflicted on a group of Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been in arbitrary detention since May 2018. These reports follow similar testimonies from November 2018 into the torture of a number of the activists, and highlight the urgent need to allow independent monitors access to those in detention, the organization said today.

    According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

    One woman activist was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month. According to another account, two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. One activist reported that interrogators had forced water into her mouth as she was shouting while being tortured. Others reported being tortured with electric shocks.

    January 02, 2019

    Responding to news that Netflix have removed an episode from a comedy show in Saudi Arabia, after officials from the Kingdom complained that it violated cyber-crime laws,

    Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International, said:

    “Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix using a cyber-crime law comes as no surprise, and is further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression in the Kingdom.

    “Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power in June 2017, many outspoken human rights defenders, activists and critics have been arbitrarily detained, or unjustly sentenced to lengthy prison terms simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “The authorities have previously used anti cyber-crime laws to silence dissidents, creating an environment of fear for those who dare to speak up in Saudi Arabia.

    “By bowing to the Saudi Arabian authorities’ demands, Netflix is in danger of facilitating the Kingdom’s zero-tolerance policy on freedom of expression and assisting the authorities in denying people’s right to freely access information.”

    December 07, 2018

    An escalating crackdown on freedoms across the Gulf states has brought renewed international attention to the human rights situation in the region, Amnesty International said today, ahead of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit which takes place in Riyadh on Sunday.

    “2018 has been a particularly brutal year for peaceful human rights activists, journalists and dissidents in the Gulf states. The abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October shone a global spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record at home and in Yemen. All of the Gulf states gathering on Sunday have continued their suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly over the past year,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    “Gulf leaders can no longer operate on the assumption that they have a carte blanche to treat their citizens like criminals whenever they express dissent without fear of any international repercussions.”

    November 29, 2018

    In response to Minister Chrystia Freeland’s announcement today that the Canadian government will place sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals believed to be involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Amnesty International Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner, Justin Mohammed, said: 

    November 20, 2018

    Several Saudi Arabian activists, including a number of women, who have been arbitrarily detained without charge since May 2018 in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahban Prison, have reportedly faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogation, Amnesty International said today.

    According to three separate testimonies obtained by the organization, the activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one reported instance, one of the activists was made to hang from the ceiling, and according to another testimony, one of the detained women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, by interrogators wearing face masks.

    “Only a few weeks after the ruthless killing of Jamal Khashoggi, these shocking reports of torture, sexual harassment and other forms of ill-treatment, if verified, expose further outrageous human rights violations by the Saudi authorities” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.

    November 08, 2018

    In the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Amnesty International staged a public stunt outside the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa on November 8, highlighting the Saudi government’s brutal crackdown on critics and activists.

    Amnesty posted signs outside the embassy that read “Journalists: Proceed with Caution,” after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

    But this is only the latest atrocity in Saudi Arabia’s growing list of human rights violations. A Saudi-led coalition has shown no signs of backing down from its relentless war against Yemen, which has killed thousands of innocent civilians and left more than eight million on the brink of starvation. Canada remains complicit in this war, as the federal government has yet to announce it will halt a $15-billion arms trade deal with Saudi Arabia. Moreover, leading Saudi feminists remain detained without charge, and some continue to be held incommunicado, for speaking up for women’s rights, following a pattern of silencing dissent that is typical of the Saudi regime. 

    November 07, 2018

    Responding to the news that the cases of twelve men from Saudi Arabia’s Shi’a minority who were sentenced to death last year have been transferred to the ‘Presidency of State Security’, a body under the King’s direct authority mandated to address all state security matters, Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said:

    “The families of the men are terrified by this development and the lack of information provided to them on the status of the cases of their loved ones. Given the secrecy surrounding Saudi Arabia’s judicial proceedings, we fear that this development signals the imminent execution of the twelve men. 

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities sentenced these men to death in 2016 for spying for Iran after a grossly unfair mass trial. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners and regularly uses the death penalty as a political tool to crush dissent from the country’s Shi’a minority, demonstrating its total contempt for the value of human life.

    November 02, 2018

    Over the past month, the story of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and subsequent death inside a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, grabbed headlines around the world.  Renowned journalists have paid tribute to Khashoggi and his work, and Amnesty International is calling on UN Secretary General António Guterres to set up an independent investigation so that we may know the truth of what took place. Canadians from coast to coast have rightfully expressed their outrage over this brutal act, which is only the latest in series of troublesome developments coming out of the Saudi kingdom. Think of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, a fine, a travel ban, and 1,000 lashes for exercising his freedom of expression. Think of Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef, three women’s rights activists who remain imprisoned without charge.

    November 02, 2018

    The credibility of 193 UN member states will be on the line when the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record takes place in Geneva on Monday, Amnesty International said. 

    “UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.

    “The Saudi government’s long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been wilfully ignored by UN member states.

    “The gruesome death of Jamal Khashoggi has shown how far the Saudi Arabian authorities will go in their repression of peaceful dissent, a crackdown which has only intensified since Mohammad bin Salman became Crown Prince.”

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