Saudi Arabia: URGENT: Human rights defenders including women’s rights activists arrested


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received reliable information that several human rights defenders were arrested yesterday in Saudi Arabia, 17 May 2018, including Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul.

Al-Nafjan and Al-Hathloul, who are well-known women’s rights activists, are among several human rights defenders arrested, but the others are not being identified for their protection. As of this writing, Al-Hathloul was being held incommunicado and has no access to her family or a lawyer. Al-Nafjan was able to call her family once. No information is available about the motive for their arrest or their whereabouts.

Al-Nafjan is a professor of linguistics, author and a blogger who is the author of the Saudiwoman's Weblog, a blog focused on Saudi society, culture, women's rights and human rights in general. She was heavily involved in the women driving campaign. Al-Hathloul is a Saudi women’s rights activist and a social media figure who also was involved in the women driving campaign and was detained on 01 December 2014 for 75 days and again in June 2017.

GCHR urges the Saudi government to:

  1. Release Lujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan and the other detained human rights defenders immediately and unconditionally;
  2. Guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Lujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan and the other human rights defenders for as long as they remain in detention;
  3. Stop targeting campaigners for women's right to drive, among other women’s rights;
  4. Allow women to exercise their rights freely without any judicial harassment or other reprisals; and
  5. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders including women’s rights 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.