Saudi Arabia: Woman human rights defender Nassima Al-Sadah placed in solitary confinement

11.02.19

According to credible reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), woman human rights defender Nassima Al-Sadah was returned to solitary confinement last week in a security prison in Saudi Arabia. The reasons are undeclared, but Saudi authorities are known to use it as a method of torture to put more pressure on women human rights defenders.

Al-Sadah has been detained since her arrest on 30 July 2018 in Al-Mabahith Prison at the General Intelligence in Al-Dammam city. It is under the control of the State Security Presidency. She was placed in solitary confinement after her arrest as well.

Since 15 May 2018, the GCHR and its partners have documented the arrest of more than 20 human rights defenders, many of whom are supporters of women’s rights campaigns. Eight have been released, including generations of women who fought for the right to drive and to live free from the control of a male guardian. But those released may still face re-arrest as new reports say they may have been released only temporarily “until the completion of their procedural review.”

Al-Sadah is a co-founding member of Al-Adalah Center for Human Rights, which was denied a permit to work for human rights. She was also heavily involved in recent years in the women’s driving campaign in Saudi Arabia and summoned for interrogation many times solely due to her legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

GCHR has news of 15 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned since May 2018 in connection with the mass crackdown on women’s rights defenders. Others who can be named include Loujain Al-Hathloul, Aziza Al-Yousef, Eman Al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Hatoon Al-Fassi, Samar Badawi, Shadan Al-Enazi, Amal Al-Harbi and Mohammed Al-Bajadi.

Please support our campaign as part of the Free Saudi Women Coalition by joining over 240,000 other people to sign a petition to free Nassima Al-Sadah and all those imprisoned for promoting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Sign now at https://www.change.org/p/united-nations-hold-saudi-arabia-accountable-free-saudi-activists

GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:

  1. While she remains detained, move Nassima Al-Sadah back to the general prison population out of solitary confinement, and don’t use solitary confinement as a punishment for women human rights defenders;
  2. Immediately drop all charges against human rights defenders, including women and men advocating for gender equality;
  3. Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, writers, journalists and prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia whose detention is a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights including women’s rights; and
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities and advocate for women’s rights without fear of reprisal.

GCHR 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 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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, 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.