Saudi Arabia arrests Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi in ongoing crackdown against human rights defenders

06/07/2018
Urgent Appeal

SAU 004 / 0718 / OBS 093
Incommunicado detention /
Judicial harassment
Saudi Arabia
July 6, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Saudi Arabia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by ALQST about the arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention of Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi, a prominent Saudi advocate for women’s right, including women’s participation to municipal elections and women’s right to drive. Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi is also associated professor of women’s history at King Saud University in Riyadh.

According to the information received, Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi was arrested on June 24, 2018. The circumstances of her arrest remain however unclear, and she has since been detained in an undisclosed location.

Prior to her arrest, Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi had stated that she was under a travel ban since June 19, 2018.

Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi was the first woman to drive since the driving ban was officially lifted on June 24, 2018. Additionally, she was set to be interviewed by French media France 2 to talk about the lift of the driving ban shortly after June 24, 2018.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the arrest and incommunicado detention of Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi and urges the Saudi authorities to immediately disclose her whereabouts as well as to ensure unhindered access to her family and lawyers.

The Observatory further recalls that ahead of the official lift of the driving ban the Saudi authorities launched a crackdown on human rights defenders in the country. As of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha’al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh remained detained [1]. While pro-governmental media outlets reported that they have been arrested under vague accusations of “suspicious contacts with foreign entities” and “financial support to enemies overseas”, no formal charges have yet been reportedly pressed against them. Moreover, they are reportedly all detained in solitary confinement, without access to their lawyers and they could only speak with their families once or twice since their arrests.

The Observatory urges the Saudi authorities to release the above-mentioned human rights defenders immediately and unconditionally, and to put an end to all acts of harassment against them as well as all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia as this wave of arrests and arbitrary detentions, only seems to aim at sanctioning peaceful and legitimate human rights activities in particular in defence of women’s human rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Saudi Arabia asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi, Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha’al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh as well as of all detained human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia;

ii. Immediately disclose Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi, Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani and Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi’s whereabouts;

iii. Ensure all detained human rights defenders have unhindered access to their family and lawyers;

iv. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi. Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha’al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh and all detained human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;

v. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Hatoon Al Fassi, Ms. Nouf Abdulaziz, Ms. Mayya Al-Zahrani, Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mr. Mohamed al-Bejadi, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mesha’al and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh and all human rights defenders in the country so they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal;

vi. Comply in all circumstances with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

vii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and instruments.

Addresses:

• His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125; Email: info@moi.gov.sa; Twitter: @KingSalman
• His Excellency, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125; Email: info@moi.gov.sa
• H.E. Waleed bin Mohammad Al Samaani, Minister of Justice, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Fax: + 966 11 405 7777; Email: info@moj.gov.sa
• His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: + 966 11 401 1111 / + 966 11 401 1944 / + 966 11 403 1125; Email: info@moi.gov.sa
• H.E. Adel bin Ahmed El Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fax: + 966 11 403 0645 ; Email: info@mofa.gov.sa
• H.E. Abdulaziz Alwasil, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 758 00 00. Email: saudiamission@bluewin.ch
• H.E. Abdulrahman bin Soliman Al-Ahmed, Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 6468538. Email: beemb@mofa.gov.sa

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Saudi Arabia in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, July 6, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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