Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Women’s rights defender Souad Al-Shammari arrested for tweets
UPDATE: Souad Al-Shammari was released on 29 January 2015 after three months in jail. She was not pardoned during a recent round of prisoner amnesties by the new leader, King Salman. She was required to sign a promise to refrain from her activism.
The Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) express concern over the arrest of women’s rights defender Souad Al-Shammari in Saudi Arabia.
On 28 October 2014, Souad Al-Shammari was arrested while attending a first interrogation session at the Bureau of Investigation in Jeddah.
Al-Shammari has been interrogated for tweets she published on her Twitter account (https://twitter.com/SouadALshammary) and she currently faces charges including “calling upon society to disobey by describing society as masculine” as well as “using sarcasm while mentioning religious texts and religious scholars.”
The Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the GCHR are highly concerned that Souad Al-Shammari’s lawyer was prevented from attending interrogation sessions and was not able to see the interrogation report. Furthermore, Al-Shammari seems to have been verbally abused by the investigator who told her "now the society will get rid of your evils."
The Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the GCHR believe the arrest and prosecution of Souad Al-Shammari is in direct violation to her right to freedom of expression.
Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and GCHR urge the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Souad Al-Shammari and release her from detention;
- Guarantee her physical and psychological integrity and security while she remains in detention;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that on-line activists and all human rights defenders 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.
Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and 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, 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 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (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.”