Saudi Arabia: Women rights defenders face new verdict


On Thursday 28 June 2019, some Saudi women activists attended a new trial session, as reported by their families’ sources. Among those being tried there were the academic Aziza al-Yousef, who is in her 60s, and the conservative preacher Ruqayya al-Mohareb. The blogger Eman al-Nafjan was also expected to be present. All of them are vital components of the women rights defenders’ group which has been stopped and detained weeks before the lift ban on women driving cars. Since yesterday, little information has been shared publicly even though some shared news has been successfully recorded by foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights groups.

The pending charges of the public prosecutor consist on the suspect of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad by the activist entourage. The women’s detention and their inhuman treatment, with cases of torture and ill-treatment, has sharpened international indignation, augmenting the facto the already precarious credibility after the Khashoggi’s killing. In addition to that, Saudi propaganda has branded the women as traitors adding accuses of being at the service of foreign intelligence.

Furthermore, Samar Badawi also appeared to the court on Thursday over charges linked to her human rights activism. Badawi is the sister of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison back in 2012 for accuses against officials in the kingdom. It was the first time Samar Badawi had appeared in court since her arrest. Under Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism dispositions, the total number of activists face up to 20 years in prison. However, their future is still unknown as Saudi officials keep on refusing to share precious information.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) praise the striving activism of Women Saudi defenders and strongly condemns the arbitrary behaviour of Saudi government. We are profoundly saddened for the recent news on the trial and in hopes that the new international wave of pressure materialises, we stand together and with all suffering and persecuted activists.