Tag Archives: Human Rights Watch

Saudi Arabia: Number of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia increases to 2,613

September 17, 2018

The number of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia has increased to 2,613 detainees, according to Saudi human rights sources.

The Twitter account of Prisoners of Conscience concerned with the detainees in Saudi Arabia stated in a tweet that: “the number of prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia has increased to 2,613 detainees.”

The Twitter account added that “prominent lawyers, judges, academics, Muslim scholars, and media professionals” were among the detainees.

It is noteworthy that there are detainees in the Kingdom who have been imprisoned for more than 10 years either under sentences approved by the court against them or without charges and judicial rulings.

Since September 10, 2017, there have been hundreds of arrests in Saudi Arabia, despite human rights activists’ denunciation, and calls from international organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to immediately release detainees, and precedent calls to immediately disclose their whereabouts and allow them to communicate with their families and lawyers.

In May, the arrests reached human rights activists and feminist activists. They were accused by authorities of having connections with foreign parties as a result of their activity on women’s rights.








https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2018/09/11/arabie-saoudite-liberer-les-militantes-des-droits-des-femmes-detenues (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1134624/lautre-justin-trudeau.html (FRANCAIS)

http://www.elmundo.es/opinion/2018/09/17/5b9e54bb22601d75658b45d4.html (ESPANOL)


Iraq/HRW: Officials Threatening, Arresting Lawyers

September 12, 2018

Mosul’s Civil Status Directorate. © 2018 Belkis Wille/Human Rights Watch

Iraqi security officers are threatening, and in some cases arresting, lawyers seen to be providing legal assistance to Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and families perceived to be related to ISIS members, effectively denying them legal services, Human Rights Watch said today.

Lawyers said that, fearing for their lives, they have stopped representing ISIS suspects or people perceived to be related to them. As a result, ISIS suspects are relying on state-appointed defense lawyers, who rarely provide an adequate defense, and families with perceived ties to ISIS suspects are generally left without access to legal services.

“The Iraqi government is attacking lawyers for doing their job and is effectively preventing people who need legal services from getting them,”  said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “In addition to being illegal, these attacks have a corrosive effect on the rule of law by sending a message that only some Iraqis have the right to legal representation.”

In July and August 2018, Human Rights Watch interviewed 17 lawyers working in and around Mosul for international and local organizations that provide legal services to those affected by Iraq’s recent armed conflict. The services include defending people against terrorism charges and assisting families who lived under ISIS control to get the civil documentation they need to live in government-controlled areas, an well as for welfare benefits (known as Public Distribution System or PDS cards) that they lost during their time under ISIS.

The lawyers all said they had witnessed or experienced threats and other verbal harassment by National Security Service or Ministry of Interior Intelligence and Counter Terrorism officers for providing legal representation to those viewed by security forces as “ISIS” or “ISIS families.” One said an Interior Ministry intelligence officer detained him for his legal activities for two hours, while another said that intelligence officers detained two other legal aid workers for two months, finally releasing them without charge.




Tajikistan: Prominent rights lawyer walks free in Tajikistan

August 24, 2018

Image result for Shukhrat Kudratov

Tajikistan on Friday freed a prominent human rights lawyer as Western governments and rights groups stepped up pressure on the authoritarian Central Asian country.

Shukhrat Kudratov, a renowned rights lawyer involved in defending Tajikistan’s battered opposition was released early on Friday after spending nearly four years behind bars on embezzlement charges in this landlocked former Soviet republic.

In 2015, he was sentenced to nine years in prison although it was later shortened to three years and eight months.

Kudratov’s supporters insisted his real offence was representing a wealthy former government official Zaid Saidov, who had branched out politically by attempting to form his own party in 2013.

Saidov’s arrest heralded the beginning of a renewed crackdown in Tajikistan, where 65-year-old President Emomali Rakhmon has been in power since 1992.






https://news.tj/ru/news/tajikistan/laworder/20180824/advokat-shuhrat-kudratov-vishel-na-svobodu (RUSSIAN)

Saudi Arabia/Canada: Outrageous ongoing detention of women’s rights defenders reaches 100 days

August 23, 2018

Image result for samar badawi

The ongoing arbitrary detention of several women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia is outrageous, Amnesty International said today, as three prominent activists reach 100 days of being held without charge.

Since May, at least 12 leading human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have been detained without charge. Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef were all imprisoned on 15 May and today (23 August) marks 100 days since their detention.

“It is absolutely outrageous that so many brave human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are still being held without charge – apparently for simply speaking out against injustice,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

“They have been detained without charge and with no legal representation for more than three months. This must not go on any longer. The world cannot carry on looking the other way as this relentless persecution of those who stand up for human rights in Saudi Arabia continues.”

To mark the 100 day anniversary, Amnesty International is today mobilising its supporters worldwide to stand with the detained human rights defenders. As part of the campaign, Amnesty International supporters are gathering in multiple cities around the world to protest outside of Saudi Arabian embassies. They will be putting pressure on the Saudi Arabian authorities, as well as their own governments, to take action to secure the release of the women human rights defenders and all prisoners of conscience who have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef have faced accusations in state-aligned media which include forming a “cell” and posing a threat to state security for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric”. Amnesty International understands that the three women may be charged and tried by the country’s notorious counter-terror court, which has been used in other instances to try human rights defenders and deliver harsh prison sentences.

Earlier this month, two more prominent women human rights activists – Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada – were also detained. Others detained recently include women’s rights activists Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya’a al-Zahrani, and activists who have previously been persecuted for their human rights work, such as Mohammed al-Bajadi and Khalid al-Omeir. Hatoon al-Fassi, a prominent women’s rights activist and academic was also reportedly detained a few days after Saudi Arabia lifted the driving ban in June.

So far, a total of 12 human rights defenders have been detained: eight women and four men. The crackdown began shortly before Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving in the country. Many of the activists detained campaigned for the right to drive and the end of the repressive male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia for many years.








https://www.lawsociety.ie/globalassets/documents/gazette/gazette-2018/sept-2018-gazette.pdf#page=19 (at page 16)


https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1935 (ARABIC)

http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2018/08/22/01003-20180822ARTFIG00232-la-militante-saoudienne-israa-al-ghomgham-risque-la-decapitation.php (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/08/17/les-valeurs-des-lumieres-n-appartiennent-pas-qu-a-l-homme-blanc_5343245_3232.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20180823/451413919665/ai-denuncia-que-tres-activistas-saudies-llevan-100-dias-en-prision-sin-cargos.html (ESPANOL)

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/saudi-arabien-israa-al-ghamgham-droht-die-enthauptung-a-1224434.html (DEUTSCH)

https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mundo/2018/08/arabia-saudita-busca-pena-de-morte-para-cinco-ativistas-de-direitos-humanos.shtml (PORTUGUES)

https://www.ilpost.it/2018/08/23/attivista-politica-arabia-saudita-rischia-pena-di-morte/ (ITALIANO)

https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/saoedi-arabie-eist-doodstraf-tegen-vijf-activisten-onder-wie-een-vrouw~b742c553/ (NEDERLANDS)

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South Sudan: Friends say Philly-educated peace activist Peter Biar Ajak has been charged with treason in South Sudan

August 17, 2018

Ajak was one of at least 20,000 children who were dubbed the 'lost boys' of Sudan after they were separated from their families during the country's second civil war [Image provided by Aaron Spence]

Friends of the imprisoned international peace activist Peter Biar Ajak, who was seized and held without charges in his homeland of South Sudan, say he now has been charged with treason-related offenses by the government.

Ajak, 34, has been outspoken in his criticism of the country’s repressive regime.

Now a well-known scholar and speaker on East Africa, he had come to Philadelphia as a teenage refugee in January 2001, one of 40,000 “Lost Boys” left homeless by the violence and brutality of civil war in Sudan. He graduated from Central High School and La Salle University, earned a master’s degree at Harvard, and was completing a doctorate at Cambridge University in England at the time of his arrest.

Among the charges are concealing treason, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to South Sudan, and an offense that covers insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism, according to a charging document.

The maximum sentence for concealing treason is 20 years in prison.







Welcome to Independent South Sudan Peter Biar Ajak: We Pray for You and Our Country









https://www.change.org/p/freedom-for-peter-biar-ajak (PLEASE SIGN URGENT PETITION!)




http://www.agenceafrique.com/13362-soudan-du-sud-hrw-exige-la-liberation-du-defenseur-des-droits-de-lhomme-peter-biar-ajak.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/les-etats-unis-r%C3%A9clament-la-lib%C3%A9ration-d-un-activiste-au-soudan-du-sud/4510816.html (FRANCAIS)

http://www.lequotidien.lu/international/soudan-du-sud-arrestation-de-peter-biar-ajak-eminent-defenseur-des-droits-de-lhomme/ (FRANCAIS)

https://lemonde-arabe.fr/03/08/2018/soudan-du-sud-peter-biar-ajak/ (FRANCAIS)

http://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-detenido-sudan-sur-destacado-economista-detractor-kiir-machar-20180731173246.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.nzz.ch/international/suedsudans-verlorene-kinder-misstrauen-dem-frieden-ld.1409112 (DEUTSCH)

http://www.nigrizia.it/notizia/impunita-minacciosa (ITALIANO)

https://extra.globo.com/noticias/mundo/presidente-do-sudao-do-sul-concede-anistia-ex-vice-outros-rebeldes-22962949.html (PORTUGUES)

Maldives/HRW: Opposition, Media Under Attack

August 16, 2018

Police officers detain an opposition protester demanding the release of political prisoners during a demonstration in Malé, Maldives, February 2, 2018.

The Maldives government’s intimidation of the political opposition and media threatens prospects for free and fair elections in September 2018, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government of this Indian Ocean archipelago has also interfered with the judiciary and the national electoral commission in order to tighten its grip on power.

“The Maldives government has cracked down on any and all dissent, from activists and journalists to Supreme Court judges,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Immediate steps are needed to restore political freedoms and democratic rule to ensure free and fair elections in September.”

The 52-page report, “‘An All-Out Assault on Democracy’: Crushing Dissent in the Maldives,” documents how the government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has used decrees and broad, vaguely worded laws to silence dissent and intimidate, arbitrarily arrest, and imprison critics. These include counterterrorism laws widely used against opposition activists and politicians; anti-defamation laws used against the media and social media activists; and restrictions on assembly that prevent peaceful rallies and protests. Religious extremists and criminal gangs – including many that enjoy political protection – have assaulted and sometimes murdered dissenters with impunity. This has had crippling effects on the Maldives’ nascent democracy and struggling civil society.






Saudi Arabia/Canada: Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador after criticism of arrest of women’s rights activists

August 6, 2018

‘Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs’

Saudi Arabia has given the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom 24 hours to leave after Ottawa criticised the arrest of women’s rights activists in the ultra-conservative country.

The Saudi foreign ministry also said it was freezing “all new business” between the two states and had withdrawn its own ambassador.

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it declared in an extraordinary statement on Sunday night.

The spat comes after Canada’s diplomatic department tweeted about the detention of two more activists in the Middle Eastern country on Friday, the latest in a crackdown which began in May.

“Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi,” it posted. “We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”

Ms Badawi, arrested last week, is a lawyer and sister to blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison in 2012 for criticising clerics. His wife Ensaf Haidar and three children now live in Quebec.

Her whereabouts, and those of Nassima al-Sadah, are currently unknown. Several other prominent female activists remain in prison near Jeddah, where no charges have been brought against them.


















http://www.france24.com/fr/20180806-riyad-expulse-ambassadeur-canada-critiques-droits-lhomme-badawi-arabie-saoudite (FRANCAIS)

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1116070/larrestation-de-samar-badawi-suscite-des-reactions (FRANCAIS)

https://www.amnesty.fr/liberte-d-expression/petitions/liberte-pour-3-defenseures-en-arabie-saoudite (FRANCAIS – SIGNEZ LA PETITION!)

https://www.derstandard.de/story/2000084863817/samar-badawi-eine-frau-kaempft-gegen-die-verhaeltnisse (DEUTSCH)

https://www.dw.com/de/schwester-von-raif-badawi-in-saudi-arabien-festgenommen/a-44919296 (DEUTSCH)

https://www.ilpost.it/2018/08/06/arabia-saudita-canada-samar-badawi/ (ITALIANO)

https://veja.abril.com.br/mundo/arabia-saudita-expulsa-diplomata-canadense-e-convoca-enviado-a-ottawa/ (PORTUGUES)