Saudi Arabia- On 13 February 2017, prominent human rights defender Samar Badawi received a call from the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution in Jeddah summoning her to appear at 10am on 15 February for investigation.
On 15 February 2017, Badawi appeared before the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. The investigation lasted several hours and in a tweet on her twitter account she explain that the investigation is “related to previous issues about my HR and civil activities including women’s campaign against male guardians.”
On 02 December 2014, Badawi was informed by staff in the Passport Office at King Abdulaziz International Airport that she is not allowed to travel abroad anymore by an order from the Ministry of Interior, without any reason given or any prior investigations. She was on her way to get a flight to participate in the 16th European Union (EU) NGOs Forum on Human Rights which was held on 04 and 05 December in Brussels, Belgium.
On 12 January 2016, Badawi was arrested after she was summoned by the Criminal Investigation Authority in Jeddah for interrogation without any reason given. On 13 January 2016, she was released on bail after a detention that lasted hours.
Badawi is a prominent human rights defender in Saudi Arabia. She has worked very hard to defend the rights of women to vote, drive and to achieve social justice.
On 08 March 2012, she received the International Woman of Courage Award because she was “the first woman to file a lawsuit against the government demanding the right for women to vote, and launched an online campaign to encourage other women to file similar suits. The efforts of activists like Badawi helped encourage a royal decree allowing women to vote and run for office in future municipal elections.”
On 17 September 2015, Badawi received the International Hrant Dink Award for her endless human rights work. The award, established by the Hrant Dink Foundation in Turkey, was presented on 15 September 2015, on Hrant Dink’s birthday. This award is given to individuals who risk their lives for ideals and principles, using a language of peace aiming for a world free of violence, discrimination and racism.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the ongoing targeting of Samar Badawi is solely related to her work in defending human rights and in particular her defence of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
Stop immediately and without any conditions all types of harassment against Samar Badawi;
Revoke the travel ban against Samar Badawi;
Release all detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia; and
Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and Internet activists 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 the authorities in Saudi Arabia 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 5 (a): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”, Article 6 (c): “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): “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, threat, 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.”