Saudi Arabia: Judicial harassment of Ms. Samar Badawi

Urgent Appeal
Flickr Pauletta Walsh

SAU 001 / 0116 / OBS 007
Arbitrary arrest / Release /
Judicial harassment
Saudi Arabia
January 14, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (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 reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest, overnight detention and subsequent release without charge of Ms. Samar Badawi, Vice-President of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA), and a vocal and public advocate for imprisoned human rights activists and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

According to the information received, on January 6, 2016, Ms. Samar Badawi was summoned by the Criminal Investigation Authority in Jeddah for interrogation concerning activity on the Twitter account of her detained ex-husband, human rights lawyer Mr. Waleed Abu Al-Khair [1]. Ms. Badawi waited for several hours before being asked to come back on January 12, 2016. On that date, officers started interrogating her at 11 am on accusations that she had been managing her ex-husband’s Twitter account and more particularly leaking a picture on January 8, 2016, of her husband and Mr. Fawzan Al-Harbi, a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) arbitrarily detained with Mr. Abu Al-Khair at the Al-Malaz prison, before Mr. Abu Al-Khair’s transfer to Dhahban Central Prison in Jeddah in January 2016.

After being interrogated for about four hours, she was placed in a police car and transferred along with her two years old daughter, to Hayy al-Salam police station. Upon arrival, she was formally placed under arrest and transferred alone to Dhahban Central Prison where both her husband and her brother Mr. Raif Badawi [2] are detained. On January 13, 2016, she was released on bail in the early morning. Later on the same day she appeared before the public prosecution, who released her without charges.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time Ms. Samar Badawi is judicially harassed by the Saudi authorities. In December 2014, she was intercepted at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and prevented to board a plane to attend the EU NGO Forum on Human Rights in Brussels, Belgium, before being informed of a travel ban issued by the Ministry of Interior against her [3].

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the continued judicial harassment against Ms. Samar Badawi. This case is a clear illustration that the Saudi authorities are increasingly challenging and threatening freedom of association, assembly and expression, further shrinking space for civil society. Accordingly, the Observatory calls on the Saudi authorities to drop all charges against Ms. Badawi, and put an end to all ongoing acts of harassment against her and other human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

More generally, the Observatory condemns the continued arbitrary detention of Messrs. Waleed Abu al-Khair and Raif Badawi, which only aims at punishing them for their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and drop all charges against them.

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. Samar Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Raif Badawi as well as all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Samar Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Raif Badawi and all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal;

iii. Release Messrs. Waleed Abu al-Khair and Raif Badawi immediately and unconditionally, as well as all human rights defenders currently in detention, since their detention is arbitrary as it only aims at curtailing their human rights activities;

iv. Comply in all circumstances with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its:
- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(c), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratify international and regional human rights instruments and harmonise its domestic law with international human rights instruments.


· His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, Office of His Majesty the King, Royal Court, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior) +966 11 403 3125
· H.E. Shaykh Dr Mohammed bin Abdulkareem Al-Issa, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, University Street, Riyadh 11137, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: + 966 11 401 1741 / + 966 11 402 0311
· His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Minister of Interior, Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fax: +966 11 403 3125
· H.E. Mr. Faisal Bin Hassan Trad, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Route de Lausanne 263, 1292 Chambésy, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 758 00 00. Email:
· H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman bin Soliman Al-Ahmed, Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Avenue Franklin Rosevelt, 45 1050 Brussels – Belgium. Fax: +32 2 6468538. Email:

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

Paris-Geneva, January 14, 2016

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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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