In a joint report, the organizations reviewed the most prominent measures and features of the crackdown and Saudi violations against human rights defenders since the beginning of the year 2021.
ALQST for Human Rights and MENA for Human Rights condemned the renewed crackdown on peaceful human rights defenders, human rights defenders and critics who have been brought to trial or sentenced to long prison terms or whose conviction has been upheld or increased upon appeal.
Al-Qust and us indicated that the Saudi regime issued a series of sentences against a number of human rights defenders and human rights defenders and peaceful critics at the beginning of 2021 with long prison terms on charges stemming directly from exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Those sentencing came after trials that failed to meet due process guarantees.
Other human rights activists currently face a great risk of being issued such harsh prison sentences in connection with their peaceful activities.
In other cases, human rights activists saw their prison sentences have been upheld or even significantly increased after challenging their convictions on appeal.
On April 14, 2021, ALQST for Human Rights and MENA for Human Rights filed several cases of human rights defenders whose basic human rights were violated at the beginning of 2021, in a letter addressed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders:
The case of the activist Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, an employee of the Saudi Red Crescent. He was arrested in March 2018 and forcibly disappeared for nearly three years.
During this time, he was allowed to make two short phone calls to his family. On April 5, 2021, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by a 20-year travel ban, for managing two satirical Twitter accounts.
In February 2021, the Specialized Criminal Court sentenced six activists, including Israa Al-Ghomgham, to long prison terms on charges related to peaceful protest or their activities on social media.
Israa Al-Ghomgham and her husband, Musa Al-Hashem, from the Eastern Province, were arrested after their participation in protests calling for an end to discrimination against Shiites in the Kingdom.
Her initial death sentence was replaced by eight years in prison, her appeal is pending.
Likewise, Muhammad Al-Rabiah is a human rights defender who was arrested in 2018 in the context of the Kingdom’s campaign against women’s rights defenders and activists against the male guardianship system.
On March 21, 2021, his case was transferred to the Specialized Criminal Court. He is currently at risk of long prison terms, with the Public Prosecution demanding 25 years in prison, followed by a travel ban.
Nassima al-Sada is an activist for women’s rights and Shia rights and has advocated for ending the ban on women driving.
In 2018, a month after the ban was lifted, she was arrested, along with other activists who have advocated for an end to discrimination against women.
On March 22, 2021 the appeal upheld her five-year prison sentence, followed by a five-year travel ban, which was issued in November 2020 in connection with her peaceful activities.
In the context, the Al Saud authorities issued an additional sentence against human rights activist Muhammad Al-Otaibi after they sentenced him to 14 years in prison.
In 2020, an additional one-year prison sentence was imposed on Al-Otaibi, which was raised to a three-year prison sentence on appeal in early 2021, resulting in a total of 17 years in prison.
Human rights demands
ALQST for Human Rights and MENA for Human Rights strongly condemned the continued Saudi crackdown on human rights defenders, women human rights defenders and peaceful activists.
They called for real reform efforts that include respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of Saudi citizens.
The human rights organizations demanded the necessity of the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience currently held, the dropping of all charges against them, and the lifting of the restrictive conditions and the travel ban imposed on those released with conditions.