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Written by HRDs and Journalists
Saudi Arabia- Saudi Arabia- Authorities prevent human rights defender Fowzan Alharbi from travelling to Geneva to attend a human rights conference
Beirut, 24 May, 2012 – On 22 May 2012, Saudi authorities stopped human rights defender Fowzan Alharbi at the King Khalid airport in Riyadh and prevented him from travelling to Geneva to attend a human rights conference. Fowzan Alharbi is a member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (HSM). A co-founder of this human rights organization Mohammed Albajady is currently serving a four-year prison sentence following a grossly unfair trial. (See Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) appeal dated 28 April 2012 http://gc4hr.org/news/view/124)
On 22 May 2012, at approximately 11:30pm, having received his boarding card, the authorities stopped Fowzan Alharbi at the immigration counter. They examined his passport and then took him to another room where an immigration officer took his passport and looked up his details on a computer. After 15 minutes in the room the officer told Fowzan Alharbi that he was not permitted to travel and he was obliged to return home.
Fowzan Alharbi had intended to travel to a conference entitled “Freedoms and Rights In Saudi Arabia” which is due to take place at the United Nations in Geneva on 24 May 2012. The conference is organized by the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) and the Arab Commission for Human Rights in cooperation with the Global Coalition.
The prevention of the human rights defender from travelling forms part of a trend of human rights defenders in the country being target by authorities. The GCHR believes that Fowzan Alharbi was stopped from travelling solely as a result of his human rights activities and that it constitutes a breach of his freedom of movement and is an attempt to hinder his legitimate and peaceful human rights work.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urges the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
- Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the prevention of Fowzan Alharbi from leaving the country to attend a human rights conference with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with international standards;
- Ensure that Fowzan Alharbi is free to travel to and from Saudi Arabia without illegitimate interference by authorities;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (c): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations“ and to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.