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Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Ali Ahmed Shaaban arrested

2017-05-18

According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), human rights defender and blogger Ali Ahmed Shaaban has been arrested in Saudi Arabia as part of the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders in the country.

At midnight on 15 May 2017, while on his way to the local pharmacy with his two-year-old daughter Dina to buy her some milk, Shabaan was arrested by security forces and transferred to Al-Qadif General Prison. He has no access as yet to his family or lawyer and the only communication was when the police called his brother to collect Shabaan’s daughter. Reports confirmed that his arrest and detention are related to his online activities.

Shaaban is the head of Green Team Association, which is an environmental group with prominent activities in the conservation of Mangroves forests overlooking the coasts of the city of Al-Qatif. Large parts of the forests were removed in the past. The group is also against the projects that seeks to bury the sea for the construction of housing complexes. He has undertaken many other rights-related activities including the defense of women's rights, freedom of expression and the fight against corruption, all of which he expressed in his writings on Facebook.

GCHR expresses serious concern at the arrest of Ali Shaaban. GCHR believes that his arrest and detention are solely due to exercising his legitimate and peaceful right to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression and conducting peaceful activities in the field of human rights.

GCHR urges the Saudi Arabian authorities to:

  1. Release immediately and without any conditions Ali Shaaban;
  2. Stop all types of harassment against Ali Shaaban in order to ensure that he is able to exercise his right to freedom of opinion and expression and to post comments and views online in addition to other public domains without fear of reprisals; and
  3. 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.