2012 Archives

April 24th, 2013

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  Saudi Arabia uses capital offence of ‘apostasy’ to stifle debate  24 December 2012  A court in Saudi Arabia has decided to proceed with the prosecution of an online activist for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, in what Amnesty International said is a new bid to stifle political and social debate.   On 22 December the General Court in Jeddah had Raif Badawi, 25, sign documents to enable his trial on apostasy charges to go ahead, after his case was passed to it by a District Court on 17 December.   Badawi – who founded “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, a website for political and social debate – has been in detention since June 2012 on charges including “setting up a website that undermines general security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.   “Even in Saudi Arabia where state repression is rife, it is beyond the pale to seek the death penalty for an activist whose only ‘crime’ was to enable social debate.  More… 

UN Enable:  International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2012  Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. Barriers can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment or to information and communications technology (ICT), or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination. The result is that persons with disabilities do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.

The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society.  More information

In Saudi Arabia The Center for Students with Special Needs (CSSN) at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will celebrate the Day with sport tournaments, workshops, lectures, etc. The celebrations will initiate projects intended raise-awareness, as well as to promote accessibility at the University and expand its ability to accommodate various disabilities.   More information on Saudi Arabia’s Response to International Day of Persons with Disabilities – in Arabic


GULF CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS  2012-11-26  Saudi Arabia-Human rights defender Mikhlif bin Daham Al-Shammari awarded compensation for his arbitrary detention while trial of Mohammad Al-Qahtani, and Abdullah Al-Hamid continues  On 25 November 2012, the First Circuit of the administrative court ordered the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution to pay human rights defender Mikhlif bin Dahm Al-Shammari 159,000 Saudi Riyals (approximately 32,680 euro) for being arbitrarily detained for 106 days in 2007.

At approximately 9am on 25 November 2012, the First Circuit Court ruled in favour of the human rights defender.While he was in prison last year, on activism related charges, the First Circuit Court found that his detention between 5 February and 23 May 2007 was arbitrary and ordered the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution to pay compensation.  (Arabic)   (English)

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL NEWS  28 November 2012   Saudi Arabia must release or charge detained peaceful protesters  Some 15 Saudi Arabian men detained on Tuesday must be released unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence, Amnesty International said following their arrest during a peaceful protest at the continued detention and ill-treatment of relatives.  Police arrested the men outside the offices of the Human Rights Commission in the capital Riyadh. According to eyewitness accounts, 22 women and eight children were also detained for taking part in the protest. They were later released. 

“The Saudi Arabian authorities must release all those detained on Tuesday’s protest or charge them with recognizable criminal offences if there are legitimate reasons for doing so,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.  “Participating in a peaceful protest or appearing to criticize state authorities for the treatment of detained relatives would never be a legitimate reason for arrest and detention.” More… 


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL September 5, 2012  HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP CO-FOUNDERS ON TRIAL Two co-founders of a Saudi Arabian human rights organization are on trial on charges related to their human rights activities and criticism of the Saudi Arabian authorities. If imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them to be prisoners of conscience.  Dr Abdullah bin Hamid bin Ali al-Hamid, 65 years old, and Mohammad bin Fahad bin Muflih al-Qahtani, 46years old, both co-founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), a human rights NGO, hada trial session on 1 September where they both responded to the charges against them.  (Arabic)   (English)


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  September 5, 2012   SAUDI “DAY OF RAGE” PROTESTER RELEASED Khaled al-Johani, the only man to reach the site of the demonstration to protest on the  “Day of Rage” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 11 March 2011, was released on 8 August.  More …


A Saudi Arabian cleric and outspoken critic of the Saudi government held in detention for more than a month must be either charged with a recognizably criminal offence or released, Amnesty International has said. (August 9, 2012)  Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, 51, who has frequently criticised the Saudi Arabian government over discrimination faced by members of the Shi’a community in the country, has been held without charge since his arrest by Saudi Arabian security forces on 8 July in al-Awwamiya  in the Eastern Province. “It has been a month since his arrest and Amnesty International is not aware of any charges being brought against him. Amnesty calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to either charge him with a recognisably criminal offence or release him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International. “The Saudi Arabian authorities must also end what amounts to pervasive human rights violations against members of the Shi’a community in the Eastern Province exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.” More…  (Arabic) (English)
Saudi Arabia: Reversal on Women Olympians Broken Pledge to Send Women to London Games Should Trigger Ban – HRW   July 11, 2012    (London) – Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would not send any female athletes to compete in the London Olympics despite its recent pledge to do so highlights the need to overturn the fundamental barriers to women playing sports in the kingdom, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Olympic Committee should bar Saudi Arabia from participating in the 2012 Games because of its clear violation of the Olympic Charter.  (Arabic)  (English)


 Saudi Arabia ramps up clampdown on human rights activists 18 June 2012  Amnesty International A prominent Saudi Arabian human rights defender was brought before a Riyadh court on Monday on 11 activism-related charges in the latest example of what Amnesty International called a “troubling string of court cases” aimed at silencing human rights campaigners. The charges against 46-year-old Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani relate to his human rights activism. They include setting up an unlicensed organization, understood to be the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) of which he is a founding member, “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, accusing the judiciary of allowing torture and accepting confessions made under duress, describing the Saudi Arabian authorities as a police state, inciting public opinion by accusing authorities of human rights violations, and turning international organizations against the Kingdom. His appearance in Riyadh’s Criminal Court is part of a series of recent trials aimed at silencing human rights activists in the Kingdom. “Through trials based on spurious charges and arbitrary restrictive measures like travel bans, Saudi Arabian authorities are engaged in a campaign to cow human rights defenders into submission.” (Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.)  Read more…  (Arabic)    (English)

One year on, Saudi Arabian women still driving their way to greater freedom 15 June 2012  Amnesty International   A year after scores of women began risking arrest and punishment by taking to Saudi Arabian roads in defiance of a long-standing ban on them driving, people around the world continue to spur them on in their struggle.   Ahead of a fresh wave of driving protests expected for this 17 June, Amnesty International has written to King Abdullah, urging him to overturn the ban.  Read more…
The Cairo Institute publishes its fourth annual report under the title “Fractured Walls… New Horizons”  June 6, 2012 The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies published its fourth annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world.  Through its research and analysis, this report addresses the repercussions of the revolutionary winds of change which swept across the region and succeeded in toppling the figures of tyranny, autocracy, and corruption in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The report is divided into two sections, the first of which addresses the problem of human rights and democracy in seven Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain). The second section, entitled “Countries under Occupation and Armed Conflict,” focuses on the occupied Palestinian territories, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and Lebanon.  Read report  (Arabic)   (English)
Cairo in May 7, 2012
Urgent – Bahrain
Re- Trial of Al-Khawaja and the Arrest of Nabil Rajab
Nabil Rajab

The Bahraini authorities arrested yesterday the human rights activist Mr. Nabil Rajab, President of the Bahraini Center for Human Rights, who was arrested at the airport in Bahrain during his return from Lebanon. Although the Bahraini authorities did not disclose reasons of arrest, they noted that the arrest was based on a judicial order from the Public Prosecution.

The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists expresses its deep concern at the continuing deterioration of human rights conditions in Bahrain and the continued targeting of human rights defenders and the security and judiciary prosecution on the backdrop of their peaceful activities in the defense of rights and freedoms, and the exposure of the systematic and continued violations of Bahraini authorities against citizens since the Pearl Square events in the past February and March.

The Program confirms that the arrest of Rajab is a clear and flagrant violation of the provisions of Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly the right to free movement as well as the provisions of Article 9 of the same Covenant which prohibits arbitrary detention. In the meantime, the detention without informing the charge against him is contrary to the provisions of Article 14 of the same Covenant which forces the authorities to inform the arrested or detained on the charges against him and to enable him to contact his family and his lawyer. The Program sees as if the Bahraini authorities seek to convey a letter to human rights activists that the retrial of Al Khawaja is not a new approach in the treatment of human rights activists within the Kingdom, however, it is just fake response to go with outside pressure. The Bahraini authorities continue to adopt the same repressive policy through the arrest of Nabil Rajab to intimidate activists and to silent their voices, in violation to terms and provisions of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights Defenders.

The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists claims the Bahraini authorities to immediately release the human rights activist Nabil Rajab, without limitation or conditions. Meanwhile, the Program shoulders the Bahraini authorities the full responsibility for his physical and mental health.

Beside, the Program calls on all human rights activists and institutions to stand in solidarity with our colleague Nabil Rajab and address the Bahraini authorities to release him and to hold those responsible for such behavior into accountability.

Furthermore, the program emphasizes the necessity to pressure on the Bahraini authorities to accept the Arab observers to attend the trial proceedings and sessions of human rights activist Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja. and to work together to rescue Bahraini activists and to activate terms and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Defenders. Signed:  The Arab Program For Human Rights Activists English Website Arabic Website


Join us as the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict launches May 6 with a Week of Action. The Nobel Women’s Initiative is a proud founding member of the Campaign which is the first ever global collaboration between Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organizations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict areas. The Campaign unites the organizat ions and individuals that have worked tirelessly at the frontlines to stop rape into a powerful and coordinated effort for change! We will demand urgent and bold political leadership to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and call for justice for all-including effective prosecution of those responsible. Click here to TAKE THE PLEDGE and join the Campaign now!


Saudi Arabia’s ‘Day of Rage’: One year on AMNESTY  One year on from a planned “Day of Rage” demonstration in the capital, Riyadh, on 11 March 2011, the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to detain at least six individuals arrested on or in the lead-up to that date. The continuing detention of these individuals arrested a year ago in Riyadh comes in a context in which hundreds of others have been arrested in recent months for protesting or voicing their opposition to government policies, many in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where most of the country’s Shi’a minority lives. Most have been released without charge; others remain in detention without charge or trial; and others still have been charged with vague security-related and other offences. Others who protested or attempted to protest in Saudi Arabia in previous year also remain in detention. More…

Saudi Arabia: Man might face death penalty for tweets: Hamza Kashgari AMNESTY  13 February 2012  Saudi Arabian national Hamza Kashgari risks being charged of apostasy, punishable by death, for remarks he posted on Twitter. He was forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia on 12 February from Malaysia, after he had left the country amid death threats for the posts. He is now in detention in Saudi Arabia.  More…

Three Saudi Arabian nationals may be at imminent risk of execution in Saudi Arabia for drugs offences. They have exhausted all their appeals and could be executed in the coming days. Amnesty  2/9/2012  All three appeared not to have had access to a lawyer in pre-trial detention and during their trial, and some reportedly made “confessions” under duress. In 2007 the Supreme Judicial Council upheld the death sentences in all three cases and referred them to the King, who is believed to have ratified the sentences. Their executions could take place at any time.  More  … in English

Reform activists in Saudi Arabia must receive fair appeal hearings AMNESTY  January 25, 2012 Sixteen men who were given lengthy prison sentences after they tried to set up a human rights organization in Saudi Arabia should all receive fair appeal hearings, Amnesty International said today as they wait for their cases to be heard. The group including several prominent reform activists, who were sentenced from five to 30 years in November 2011, submitted their appeals to the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on Monday. All were convicted of breaking allegiance with the King. Most were also convicted of money laundering among other charges.

Launch of Amnesty Report January 9, 2012  Amnesty has issued its 80-page Year of Rebellion: State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa report, the organization describes how governments across the region were willing in 2011 to deploy extreme violence in an attempt to resist unprecedented calls for fundamental reform.   “The Saudi Arabian government announced major spending packages in 2011, in what seemed to be an attempt to prevent protests spreading to the Kingdom. Despite that – and the drafting of a repressive anti-terror law – protests continued at the end of the year, in particular in the country’s eastern region.”  Read entire report … in Arabic …in English.

CALL FOR APPEALS BEFORE 26 JANUARY 2012 More... Human Rights Watch urges Dr. Bandar al-‘Iban, Chairman of the Human Right’s Commission to intervene in the case of ‘Amir ‘Iyada. HRW December 16, 2011 On March 29, 2011, Riyadh’s General Court sentenced ‘Iyada and five other defendants to have their right hand and left leg amputated for participating in the crime that Sharia legal scholars call hiraba, or armed (highway) robbery. The court found that on the morning of October 9, 2010, the defendants cornered three employees of the Tamimi supermarket on Riyadh’s King Fahd Road as they were transporting the week’s proceeds of SAR4 million (about US$1.07 million) in the boot of their car, that they threatened the employees with a gun, and that they took the money from them. No one was physically harmed. Human Rights Watch urges Dr. Bandar al-‘Iban, Chairman of the Human Right’s Commission to intervene in the case of ‘Amir ‘Iyada, and five other co-defendants, sentenced to have their right hands and left feet cut off.  Such a sentence should not be carried out in any circumstances, since it constitutes torture, in violation of the kingdom’s international human rights obligations. Moreover, in this case, allegedly grave violations of the defendant’s right to a fair trial cast serious doubt on whether the man sentenced to undergo this punishment is guilty as charged.  More…