Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia- Women should be allowed to campaign freely to drive
On 16 October 2013, women's rights defender and one of the campaigners for women's legal right to drive, Eman Al-Nafjan, was pulled over while driving and summoned to Al-Olaya police station in Riyadh. She was asked to sign a pledge along with her guardian to declare that she will not ride with a woman driver. Her companion, a woman driver, was asked to sign a pledge with her guardian not to drive a car.
A representative of the "26th of October Campaign" informed the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) that, "The campaign has set 26 October as a day in which Saudi women will take the wheel and drive to call on authorities to allow women to drive in the Kingdom." The source added, "The campaign is established to target a right which should have been gained ages ago without suffering from the demand or facing the risk of detention."
The GCHR condemns the harassment of the campaigners for women's right to drive by the Saudi authorities. The GCHR fully supports the "26th of October Campaign" and calls on the Saudi government to allow women the basic rights of driving a car.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
1. Stop targeting campaigners for women's right to drive and allow women to drive freely without any harassment;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from 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, recognizes 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 (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, which provides that “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.”