Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Prominent human rights defender Samar Badawi arrested


Update: In the early hours of the morning on 13 January 2016, Samar Badawi has been released on bail after a detention that lasted hours.

 On 12 January 2016, human rights defender Samar Badawi was arrested after she was summoned by the Criminal Investigation Authority in Jeddah for interrogation without any reason given.

According to the information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), Badawi was arrested as soon as she responded to the summons and was then transferred to Thahban prison in Jeddah. Reports suggested that the arrest is related to the twitter account of prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair, which published on 08 January a leaked picture from Al-Malaz prison where Abu Al-Khair is detained. Badawi is allegedly accused by the authorities of running the twitter account.

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, the International Hrant Dink Award was given to Badawi 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 GCHR believes that the arrest and detention of Badawi is solely related to her work in defence of human rights and in particular her defence of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  1. Release Samar Badawi immediately and without any conditions and drop all charges against her;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Samar Badawi;
  3. Release all detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia;
  4. 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;

The 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.