Saudi Arabia: Release Samar Badawi and other Women’s Rights Advocates | Letter

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Samar Badawi, women’s rights activist
Photo Credit: Amnesty

24 August 2018


His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Fax: +966 11 403 3125

His Excellency Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 403 3125

His Excellency Waleed bin Mohammad Al Samaani
Minister of Justice, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 11 405 7777

His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud Bin Naif Bin Abdulaziz
Minister of Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: + 966 11 401 1111 / + 966 11 401 1944 / + 966 11 403 1125

His Excellency Adel bin Ahmed El Jubeir
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Fax: + 966 11 403 0645

Re: Release Samar Badawi and other Women’s Rights Advocates

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) again calls upon Saudi Arabia to immediately release Samar Badawi and other women’s rights advocates arbitrarily detained, following our letter of 3 August 2018.

The arrest and arbitrary detention of Samar Badawi and other peaceful defenders including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Israa Al-Ghomgam, Nassima Al-Sadah and Hatoon Al Fassi and denial of rights to humane treatment and due process including access to counsel, access to independent judicial oversight and freedom from incommunicado detention and other ill treatment, constitute grave and continuing violations of Saudi Arabia’s international law obligations.

Saudi Arabia continues to refuse to comply with calls from the international community to stop the crackdown against women defenders and to release those detained  Several defenders arrested prior to the lift of the women’s driving ban have been arbitrarily detained for over three months.

Saudi Arabia has, to date ignored the 27 June 2018 call by nine United Nations (UN) experts, “for the urgent release of all of those detained while pursuing their legitimate activities in the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia” (emphasis added).  In a joint statement, [1] the nine UN experts confirmed they had been in contact the Saudi government about their urgent request, to free the human rights defenders who remain in prison solely as a result of working to advance the enjoyment of rights for all” (emphasis added). The UN experts who joined in this joint urgent action are:

Saudi Arabia has also ignored the 31 May 2018 European Parliament resolution [2] condemning arrests of ‘Women’s Rights Defenders’ (WRDs) and calling for their release and an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against WRDs, their lawyers and all other human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, so that they are able to carry out their legitimate work without unjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal.

Saudi Arabia responded with threats to the tempered 2 August statement by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland that Canada was, “[v}ery alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.” [3]

International human rights organizations calling for the release of the women’s rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the recent crackdown include: Amnesty International, IFEX, The Global Network Promoting and Protecting Free Expression, Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership).

LRWC again calls on Saudi Arabia to:

  1. Comply with the 27 June 2018 call from the nine UN experts and Immediately and unconditionally release Samar Badawi, Israa Al-Ghomgam, Nassima Al-Sadah and Hatoon Al Fassi and the human rights defenders who remain in prison solely as a result of working to advance the enjoyment of rights for all in Saudi Arabia;
  2. Immediately disclose Samar Badawi and Nassima Al-Sadah’s whereabouts;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah, Hatoon Al Fassi, Nouf Abdulaziz, Mayya Al-Zahrani, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Youssef, Loujain al- Hathloul, Mohammed al-Rabiah, Mohamed al-Bejadi, Abdulaziz Al- Mesha’al and Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh; as of all detained human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia; and
  4. Cease the persistent harassment of Samar Badawi and all human rights defenders.


Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC
Maya Duvage, LRWC member

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and others who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by: protecting advocacy rights; campaigning for jurists in danger because of their human rights advocacy; engaging in research and education; and working in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Copied to:

Prime Minister of Canada
Mr. Justin Trudeau

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Chrystia Freeland

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
Mr. David Kaye

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Ms. Annalisa Ciampi

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Mr. Michel Forst

United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Chair, Mr. Seong-Phil Hong

His Excellency Abdulaziz Alwasil
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 758 00 00

His Excellency Abdulrahman bin Soliman Al-Ahmed
Ambassador, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Brussels, Belgium
Fax: +32 2 6468538

Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé,
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
Ms. Fionnuala Ni Aolain

Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
Dr. Dubravka Simonovic

Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Chair, Mr. Bernard Duhaime

Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice
Ms. Ivana Radačić, Chair

Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
Mr. Philip Alston

[1] Saudi Arabia must immediately free women human rights defenders held in crackdown, 27 June 2018,

[2] European Parliament resolution on women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia (2018/2712(RSP))

[3] Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeeland on Twitter, 2 August, 2018.