Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia: Maysaa Al-Amodi and Lujain Al-Hathlol to appear before the Terrorism Court for driving a car
On 25 December 2014, the Partial Court in the city of Al-Ahsaa dismissed the case against activists Maysaa Al-Amodi and Lujain Al-Hathlol who were detained for driving a car, and referred the matter to the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. The presiding judge ruled that his court had no legal jurisdiction to deal with the case and referred it to the Specialized Criminal Court which deals with cases of terrorism and State security.
The Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemn the trial of the two human rights defenders and all other activists who are being targeted as a result of their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities; remind the international community that the referral of the issue to the Specialized Criminal Court is an attempt to intimidate those who dare to claim their rights, no matter how simple these rights are. The issue of women driving is no longer a social issue as the Saudi authorities used to claim but it has become a central issue highlighting the lack of willingness of the authorities to make any concessions or reforms at all.
The Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the GCHR recall other human rights defenders who were tried before the Specialized Criminal Court such as prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair who is currently imprisoned, and those who are still being prosecuted such as members of the Civil and Political Rights Association in Saudi Arabia (ACPRA) Abdulaziz Al-Shubaili and others.
The Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the GCHR commend the position taken by Waleed Abu Al-Khair, which includes non-recognition of the legitimacy of the court asserting that the verdicts are void provisions and human rights defenders should not be appearing before a court established to deal with terrorist acts.
The Monitor for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the GCHR call on the Saudi government to release the two activists Maysaa Al-Amodi and Lujain Al-Hathlol immediately and unconditionally; to stop targeting campaigners for women's right to drive and to allow women to drive freely without any judicial harassment or other reprisals.