Saudi Arabia should stop arbitrary arrests of activists, especially women and figures known for their opposition of the regime or disapproval of the kingdom's policies, warned the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in an oral statement before the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also urged to stop arrests of civilians on background of opinion and expression, added the youth-led nonprofit organization, calling on the UN Human Rights Council to take steps to pressure the Kingdom to stop these practices.
While the Saudi authorities took a step forward by allowing women to drive in September, several counter-steps have been taken less than a year after the initial decision was made, violating civilians’ basic rights and freedoms, said Ghada Al Rayyan, Euro-Med Monitor’s researcher, adding that they are far worse than prohibiting women from driving.
A few weeks ago, the Saudi authorities cracked down on young Saudi women activists without clear charges. These arrests appear to have been carried out in light of these women’s human rights advocacy and activism, particularly with regards to improving women’s status in the Kingdom.
Over the past few months, the Saudi authorities have carried out arbitrary arrests and issued travel bans against dozens of women activists who used to demand that women be allowed to drive and took positions that are exclusive to men in the Kingdom. Among them were Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and recently Samar Badawi.
Recently, the Saudi authorities started to enforce its accusations of detainees by resorting to the Specialized Criminal Court and the Anti-Terrorism Law to prosecute dozens of activists, including women.
In its joint oral statement with Zero Poor in Africa, Euro-Med Monitor stressed the importance of safeguarding youth’s right to freedom of opinion an expression as a fundamental human right, especially for youth, who are the leaders of change throughout history.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the Council and its member states to exert pressure on the Saudi authorities to stop their campaign against activists, immediately release detainees, stop intimidation and harassment of women in the Kingdom, and respect their right to freedom of opinion and expression.