Saudi Arabia: Two prominent women human rights defenders released


Two prominent Saudi women human rights defenders, Nassima Al-Sadah and Samar Badawi, were released from prison today, according to the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR). While welcoming the news, GCHR notes that it is also a sad day as courageous Emirati woman human rights defender Alaa Mohammed Al-Siddiq, who died on 19 June 2021 in a car accident in the UK, is being laid to rest in Qatar. She worked tirelessly to free human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia and highlight violations in the region.

On 27 June 2021, Al-Sadah and Badawi were released from prison in Saudi Arabia, after completing their sentences, according to press reports that spread on social media.

In March 2021, a Court of Appeal upheld a five-year sentence issued against Al-Sadah who was being held in Al-Mabahith Prison at the General Intelligence in Al-Dammam city, since her arrest on 30 July 2018. On 25 November 2020, the Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced Al-Sadah to five years in prison, with the suspension of the last two, and a five-year travel ban after the end of her sentence.

Al-Sadah was charged under article 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law for publishing her views and articles on various websites and social media, where she defended the rights of women. Al-Sadah is a writer and a co-founding member of Al-Adalah Center for Human Rights who was involved in the Women’s Right to Drive Campaign. 

There are no confirmed details about the nature of the charges against Badawi, nor the details of the sentence handed down against her.

Both are prohibited, after their release, from working in the field of human rights, publishing on social media, getting a job, or traveling outside Saudi Arabia.

Al-Siddiq, Executive Director of AL-QST for Human Rights and a Senior Researcher at Wejha Centre for Studies, worked tirelessly to document human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and across the region, including the United Arab Emirates, where she was born. The British police are still investigating the circumstances of the tragic accident which took her life.