Update: Officials from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have now been able to meet with Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.
Responding to reports that Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, faces deportation from the transit zone of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok (Thailand), Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s Middle East Director of Campaigns said:
“Rahaf is at risk of great harm if Thai authorities deport her back to Saudi Arabia via Kuwait. Reports that a Saudi official confiscated her passport upon arrival in Bangkok are extremely concerning. The arbitrary confiscation of a passport also violates the right to freedom of movement.
“She has expressed clear fears for her safety if she returns to her family, and could face criminal charges in Saudi Arabia for disobeying laws on male guardianship. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has requested access to Rahaf. Thai authorities have yet to provide that access – they must do so immediately and ensure that her right to seek asylum is respected.
“The Thai authorities are bound by the general prohibition not to transfer persons to any place where they would face a real risk of serious human rights abuses. Rahaf is entitled to fair and effective safeguards against any deportation and to international protection.”
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport on 5 January 2019, en route from Kuwait to Australia. Al-Qunun says that she was fleeing abuse, beatings and death threats from her family. Upon arrival in Bangkok, al-Qunun says, she was met by a Saudi embassy official who seized her passport. Thai immigration authorities have said that al-Qunun was prevented from onward travel to Australia, having been in contact with the “Saudi Arabia embassy to coordinate” this. She is currently held in an airport hotel and is live-tweeting her situation.