GENEVA – Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties ( GCRL) condemns the unfair ruling by a Saudi court to imprison the activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, on charges including agitating for change, and calls for her immediate release.
The Council believes that this ruling is further evidence of the false rhetoric of reform announced by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh, which was set up to deal with terror cases, sentenced Al-Hathloul to five years and eight months in jail and has suspended two years and 10 months of the sentence under counterterrorism law.
The court convicted Loujain Al-Hathloul, 31, of charges of agitating for change, pursuing a foreign agenda, using the internet to harm public order, and co-operating with individuals and entities. She was required to serve three years of probation after her release.
On May 15, 2018, the Saudi authorities arrested Loujain Al-Hathloul, along with a number of prominent human rights activists, including Samar Badawi, Nasima Al-Sada, Nouf Abdel Aziz, and Maysa Al-Zahrani, for defending women’s rights, but the Saudi authorities charged them with seeking to change Saudi political system.
The Geneva Council considers Al-Hathloul’s case as an example of human rights violations and arbitrary detention practiced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to suppress the voices of opponents and advocates of human rights.
It also notes that the arrest of Loujain Al-Hathloul came three months after she and other Saudi activists attended a meeting with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as part of their movement to demand women’s rights, including their right to drive.
The irony is that the Saudi authorities decided, after weeks of arresting Saudi activists, to lift the ban on women driving cars in the Kingdom, as part of a public policy to open up the conservative Kingdom advocated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
GCRL affirms that Al-Hathloul’s continued detention and unfair trial, as well as various human rights violations in the Kingdom, indicate the fake reform policy.
Loujain Al-Hathloul has been subjected to harassment during her arbitrary detention, including being denied regular contact with her family, and medical negligence. She has also been on a hunger strike and endured poor detention conditions.
The Council renews its call for Saudi Arabia to quash unjust convictions against the activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, to immediately release her, and to guarantee her safety and personal security, and other people’s right to freedom of opinion, expression, and political opposition without discrimination, oppression or fear.
The Geneva Council also calls on the special committees in the United Nations and the general international community to take serious action to ensure the freedom of Loujain Al-Hathloul, human rights activists, and journalists arrested for their opinions or political opposition, and to stop the protection of Saudi officials, which encourages them to continue systematic human rights violations.