Saudi Arabia-According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), two human rights defenders were arrested in Saudi Arabia as part of the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders in the country.
On 08 January 2017, the Criminal Investigation Department in Mecca summoned human rights defender Essam Koshak. On arrival he was arrested and detained in Al-Mansour police station and ordered to appear before the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution in Mecca the next day. On 09 January 2017, his detention was extended and he was not released on bail as yet.
On 05 January 2017, human rights defender Ahmed Al-Mshikhs, co-founder of Al-Adalah Centre for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, was summoned by the Criminal Investigation Department in Al-Qatif. On arrival he was arrested and detained in Al-Qatif police prison. On 08 January 2017 he was transferred to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution in Al-Dammam. He is held at the moment in Al-Dammam general prison.
Reports confirmed that no charges have been directed against either defender but it is believed that their online activities are the reason behind their arrest.
Both Essam Koshak and Ahmed Al-Mshikhs are well-known for their peaceful human rights activities and their online activism.
GCHR expresses grave concern at the arrest of Essam Koshak and Ahmad Al-Mshikhs. GCHR believes that these arrests are solely due to the two men exercising their legitimate and peaceful right to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression and conducting their work in the field of human rights.
GCHR urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to:
Release immediately and without any conditions Essam Koshak and Ahmad Al-Mshikhs;
Stop all types of harassment against Essam Koshak and Ahmad Al-Mshikhs in order to ensure that they are able to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression and to post comments online and in other public domains without fear of reprisals; and
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
GCHR respectfully reminds you that 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 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) which states that: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) 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” and to 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.”