Responding to today’s decision by Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court to uphold the conviction of women’s rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul following a deeply unfair trial, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf said:
“Today’s verdict is just the latest demonstration of Saudi Arabia’s intent to continue crushing all forms of dissent inside the country. By failing to quash Loujain al-Hathloul’s conviction, the Saudi Arabian authorities have clearly demonstrated that they consider peaceful activism a crime and consider activists to be traitors or spies.
“Loujain al-Hathloul is a brave human rights defender, she should be celebrated for her peaceful activism in the country – not branded a criminal.
Loujain al-Hathloul is a brave human rights defender, she should be celebrated for her peaceful activism in the country – not branded a criminal.Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International
“She has already been held nearly three years in arbitrary detention, enduring torture, sexual harassment and other ill-treatment as well as solitary confinement.
“Today’s verdict once again exposes Saudi Arabia’s public commitments to human rights reform as a sham.
“The Saudi authorities must immediately quash Loujain al-Hathloul’s conviction, lift the abusive five-year travel ban imposed on her and her family, and ensure she has adequate reparations for her unjust arbitrary detention and other violations she has faced. Those responsible for subjecting her to torture and other ill-treatment must also be brought to justice.”
Loujain al-Hathloul was arbitrarily detained in 2018, along with 12 other women’s rights activists held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
In December 2020, she was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison –suspended by two years and 10 months- after a grossly unfair trial before the Specialized Criminal Court. She was charged with “spying with foreign parties” and “conspiring against the kingdom” for promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system.
In February 2021, after nearly three years behind bars, Loujain al-Hathloul was released on probation. She currently faces a five-year travel ban.