Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Human rights defender Issa Al-Nukhaifi arrested


According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), human rights defender Issa Al-Nukhaifi was arrested in Saudi Arabia after being summoned by the authorities. On 18 December 2016, the security forces in the Jizan region arrested Al-Nukhaifi and detained him pending interrogation at the Investigation and Prosecution Authority in Jizan city.

Al-Nukhaifi is a community social activist who protested against the government’s policy of displacing families from the Saudi-Yemeni borders for security measures without adequate compensation. He was released on 06 April 2016 after having served three years and eight months in prison. He was allegedly tortured and placed in solitary confinement after he started a hunger strike to demand justice. He was accused of several charges including, challenging the judiciary, accusing the state institutions of dereliction of their duties, participating in sedition by inciting and organising demonstrations, and storing and sending information that might be prejudicial to public order.

On 06 December 2016, Al-Nukhaifi published the following tweet on his Twitter account, “I did not steal trillions, I did not buy a yacht and I did not buy a plane. I do not have a home for my children. I do not have a job after you took my job away and even my payment is late for the rented home so why the summons?”

Reports suggested that his arrest is related to his endless efforts to combat corruption in the Jizan region and also his recent online activities.

GCHR believes that the arrest and on-going detention of Issa Al-Nukhaifi is solely related to his human rights work. He has been targeted as a result of his work and subjected to harassment including arbitrary detention and a trial on fabricated charges following his human rights activities in defending ordinary people’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:  

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Issa Al-Nukhaifi;
  2. Ensure that Issa Al-Nukhaifi is free after his release to carry out his human rights work in a safe environment and without fear of reprisals against him or his family; 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 11: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession (...),” 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.