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Saudi Arabia- Activists file complaint against Government's decision to reject their application to register a non-governmental foundation

2012-01-29

Saudi Arabia- Activists file complaint against Government's decision to reject their application to register a non-governmental foundation

Beirut, 29 January, 2012– The founders of Adala (Justice) Centre for Human Rights have filed a complaint with the Minister of Social Affairs following the rejection of their application to establish a human  rights centre in Saudi Arabia.

In accordance with Saudi law, a legal permit is required for the centre to officially register as a non-governmental foundation. Adala applied for such a permit last month and the recent rejection effectively prohibits the centre from operating as a human  rights organization.

The founders, represented by human rights activists Sadek Al-Ramadan and consisting of 21 male and female activists and lawyers, have filed a complaint, with the Minister for Social Affairs Yusif Al Uthaymeen,  against the decision. The activists are determined to challenge the decision and to have it reversed. It is reported that they are considering filing a case with the Saudi Board of Grievances, an administrative court, if Minister Al Uthaymeen  rejects their request.

The activists unofficially founded Adala, on 10 December 2011 to coincide with International Human Rights Day. A letter announcing its foundation was sent to senior government officials including King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Naif bin Abdulazizn as well as to the official Human Rights Commission and the National Society for Human Rights.

Adala’s objectives include, monitoring and documenting human  rights cases, educating citizens and immigrants on their legal rights and promoting a culture of respect for human rights in Saudi society. Adala intends to rely on the principles of international human rights laws, regional conventions, and relevant national legislation to govern its work and activities.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) believes that the refusal to grant Adala the permit to register as a non-governmental foundation is a direct attempt to hinder its legitimate and peaceful human rights work. The GCHR sees the rejection as a continuation of the trend of targeting human rights defenders by the Saudi government.  

 The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:   

  • Ensure that the decision of Minister Al Uthaymeen to refuse to grant a registration permit to Adala is reversed and that such a permit is granted immediately in order to enable Adala to carry out its human rights activities; 
  • 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 the authorities in Saudi Arabia 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, recognizes 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(b) “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:(b)To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” and to article 6(c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: 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.”

For more information, please contact:

Bahrain:  Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English)                        +973-396-333-99

Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English)                     +961-701-595-52

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.