05/16/2019

Urgent Action Update: Women Activists Face Prison Sentences (Saudi Arabia: UA 105.18)


11 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.

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His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 403 3125
Twitter: @KingSalman
Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20037
Phone: 202 342 3800
Contact Form: https://bit.ly/2KScqag
Twitter: @SaudiEmbassyUSA
Salutation: Your Royal Highness

Your Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,

On 28 March 2019, women activists Aziza al-Yousef, Iman al-Nafjan and Dr Ruqayyah al-Muharib, who are amongst a group of 11 women activists on trial, were temporarily and conditionally released. On 2 May, Amal al-Harbi, Dr Hatoon al-Fassi, Dr Abir al-Namankani and Maysaa al-Mane’a were also temporarily and conditionally released. Maya’a al-Zahrani, Nouf Abdulaziz, Shadan al-Anezi and Loujain al-Hathloul remain detained.

The 11 Saudi women activists were detained since May 2018, following a sweeping wave of arrests targeting human rights activists. Many of the women activists brought to trial have campaigned against the long-standing ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, and for the end of the male guardianship system.

For the first 10 months of their detention, the women activists remained held without charges. They were detained incommunicado with no access to their families or lawyers during the first three months of their detention. On their first trial session on 13 March 2019, several of the women activists were charged with contacting international organizations, including Amnesty International, journalists and other activists. Since their trial began, several women activists told the court that they were tortured, ill-treated and sexually abused during the first three months of their detention. The Public Prosecution denied these allegations. In addition, diplomats and journalists have been consistently banned from attending the court sessions.

I urge you to drop all charges against the 11 women activists, and to release immediately and unconditionally those still detained, as they are prisoners of conscience, solely detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. I also urge you to allow independent monitors into the prisons to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual abuse, as well as allow foreign diplomats and journalists access to the trial sessions.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES