GENEVA – Geneva Council of Rights and Justice (GCRJ) presented a speech at a human rights seminar held at the UN Human Rights Council in its 40th Ordinary Session at Geneva on the situation of human rights defenders in the Middle East, particularly(Saudi Arabia) as a model.
During the symposium, which was organized by several international human rights organizations, the Head of the Geneva Council of Rights and Justice Lamia Fadala discussed the escalation of the crackdown with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman taking over the Covenant in June 2017, contrary to his intention to carry out political and economic reforms aimed at opening up and releasing more freedoms to citizens in the kingdom.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shown the intention to bring new amendments to the kingdom after decades of imposing multiple laws restricting the freedom of individuals and depriving them of some of their natural rights. But the facts on the ground soon proved the opposite of this picture when the authorities tightened their security grip to silence anyone who might oppose the country’s governing system. “, Fadla said,
She presented a documented case of violations against human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia as follows:
Loujain Al-Hathloul a Saudi rights activist in the field of women’s rights. She actively participated in the 26 October Saudi Women Driving Campaign and she posted videos of herself encouraging women to drive their cars within the context of this campaign in 2013
Al-Hathloul, an activist in her late 20s, was held in solitary confinement for about three months after her arrest in May, a person close to her told the Associated Press.
She was forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia this year from the United Arab Emirates, where she was pursuing a master’s in Abu Dhabi. Her husband was pressured into divorcing her after he too was forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia from Jordan, where he was working, according to the individual, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.
Samar Badawi, a human rights defender, defied the Saudi authorities by defending women’s rights to vote and drive. After the authorities refused her registration to run for the 2011 municipal elections, Samar Badawi filed a complaint with the Grievance Council against the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. Samar participated in the 2011-2012 campaign launched by women for their right to drive cars, and also helped women in the police and court proceedings in their quest to achieve this right. In 2012, Samar won the International Women’s Courage Award.
On 30 July, Saudi authorities arrested and detained Samar Badawi in Jeddah and transferred her to an unknown location. She has been repeatedly intimidated and harassed since 2014 due to her human rights activities and was placed under a travel ban on 16 September 2014 in reprisal for her participation at the 27th UN Human Rights Council. The human rights defender was briefly arrested in January 2016 and summoned for interrogation by the Bureau of Investigation in Jeddah in February 2017.
She is a Saudi and academic rights activist. She was famous for her advocacy of human rights in Saudi Arabia and her demand to empower women to lead and abolish the guardianship of men over women.
She was arrested in 2013 by Saudi authorities for driving her car in Riyadh and was forced to sign a pledge not to repeat the incident.
In May 2018, Al-Yousef was arrested as part of a crackdown by Saudi authorities against women’s rights defenders and other rights activists.
Mohammed Al Bajadi
Al Bajadi is one of the co-founders of the now banned ACPRA, a human rights organization that documented human rights violations, filed laws against the Ministry of Interior and reported violations to the UN Human Rights Council and Special Procedures. Since 2011, the Saudi government has arrested, arbitrarily denied and charged all members of ACPRA as a consequence of their peaceful human rights activism.
Al Bajadi was initially arrested in March 2011 after participating in a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh. Over a year later, in April 2012, he was sentenced to four years in prison and a five-year travel ban for “publically impairing the reputation of the state” and “co-finding a human rights organization”, violating his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Upon appeal in March 2015, the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh – which has jurisdiction over terrorism cases – issued Al Bajadi to ten years in prison. The court ordered that he serve the first five years of the sentence and suspended the last five.
Despite having steered clear of any human rights activities since his release in November 2015, Al Bajadi remains well-known for his activism. His disappearance has taken place in the context of an unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia that began in September 2017. Dozens of public figures, activists and schools have been targeted, most of which were arrested solely because they disagreed with government policy or failed to publicly display their support for the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
He is a Saudi thinker, activist and dissident who holds a PhD from Al-Azhar University. He is an academics and co-founder of one of the few Saudi human rights organizations, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) which is currently banned in the country.
Saudi authorities have arrested al-Hamed several times, the most prominent of which was his arrest on March 16, 2004 in what was known as the case of the “three reformers”, where he participated and other reformers in the formation of the trend of advocacy for political reform of the two constitutions.
On March 8, 2008, he was arrested on the basis of his position in favor of a number of Buraidah women for peaceful sit-in. He was sentenced to six months in prison and released on August 27 of the same year.
On March 9, 2013, he was re-arrested after the District Court handed down its verdict in a five-year sentence, completing the rest of the previous sentence in the case of the three reformers for a total of eleven years and preventing him from traveling for another five years4.
Eman is an assistant professor of linguistics and mother of four, including a toddler. She runs one of the first English blogs on Saudi Arabia. She describes the Saudiwoman blog as an effort to counter the many non-Saudis and non-Arabs “out there giving ‘expert’ opinions on life and culture” in the kingdom.
Al-Nafjan has protested the driving ban, including publicly driving in the capital, Riyadh, in 2013 as part of a campaign launched by women’s rights activists. She has worked closely with al-Yousef and other women’s rights activists to help domestic abuse victims and bring attention to repressive guardianship laws.
On May 15, 2018, the Saudi authorities arrested her with other six for “violating religious and national principles and communicating with and providing financial support to third parties.
In recent years, she has been cautious about voicing her opinion on Twitter out of concern over a growing crackdown on rights advocates. She was among dozens of women who were warned by the royal court last year to stop speaking with the press or voicing opinions online.
Al Nafjan founded the blog, “Saudi Woman,” that features her reporting and opinions on the campaign to end the ban on women driving in the kingdom, as well as coverage of women’s rights issues, local elections, the Saudi anti-terror law, and profiles of Saudi human rights activists. Al Nafjan’s reporting included op-eds and analysis of women’s rights movements in Saudi Arabia, feminism in Saudi society, reform movements and protests in the kingdom, and education and textbook standards put forth by the Saudi Ministry of Education. She has also contributed opinion pieces to CNN, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, and the Guardian.
In her role as an activist, Al Nafjan took part in the campaign to end the driving ban, including by publicly driving a car in defiance, according to the Gulf Center for Human Rights.