Kuwait: Kuwait- Travel ban on human rights defender Rana Al-Saadoun

06.12.13

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is deeply concerned following the travel ban that has been imposed on human rights defender Rana Al-Saadoun. She is a member of the National Committee to Monitor Violations (NCV) an organisation that documents documents violations of freedom of expression in Kuwait.  

On the 25 September 2013, Rana Al-Saadoun was informed by the authorities that she is not allowed to travel abroad any more, without any reason given or any prior investigations. On 7 October 2013, she was summoned for interrogation and once again informed about the imposed travel ban.

On 10 November 2013, Rana Al-Saadoun, together with two other members of the NCV, human rights defenders Abdullah Al-Rafdi and Munther Al-Habeeb, appeared before the Kuwaiti Criminal Court. They were accused of the following offences after being interrogated separately:

1. Insulting the head of state (the Emir);

2. Challenging the authority of the prince;

3. Repeating a speech in a public place. 

During the above court hearing of her case, Rana Al-Saadoun asked the judge to revoke the travel ban because it's contrary to the country's constitution and international treaties however the judge rejected her request.

For further information please see GCHR appeal dated 5 November 2013: http://gc4hr.org/news/view/521

Recently, Rana Al-Saadoun's lawyer sent a letter to the court requesting that the travel ban be lifted as she needs to attend an educational course in Turkey. Once again the application was rejected.

The GCHR believes that this travel ban has been imposed on Rana Al-Saadounas as a result of her human rights activities, in particular her work to defend freedom of expression in Kuwait.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Kuwait to:

1. Ensure that Rana Al-Saadoun is free to travel to and from Kuwait without illegitimate interference by authorities;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The 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, 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 5 (c): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations“ and 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“.