February 15, 2017

Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Samar Badawi Summoned for Interrogation

The World Movement for Democracy is alarmed to report that the Jeddah Bureau of Investigation have summoned Saudi activist Samar Badawi for interrogation without explanation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, February 15. This summon is the latest in a long line of intimidation tactics Badawi has endured since she began her advocacy work. In January 2016, Saudi authorities summoned and held Badawi and her two year old daughter in prison overnight for advocating for the release of her then-husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, who is serving a prison sentence for his human rights work. The international human rights community fears for her safety and believes she may be detained after her interrogation in this incident as well.


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Badawi received the 2012 International Women of Courage Award for her tireless advocacy for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, which has included spearheading the first women’s suffrage campaign in 2011 and a women’s right-to-drive campaign in 2012. In December 2014, Saudi Arabian Ministry of Interior placed a travel ban on her at the King Abdulaziz International Airport when she tried to leave the country to attend the EU NGO Forum in Brussels, Belgium.

In January 2016, Badawi faced charges of “incit[ing] public opinion against the state” for speaking out against al-Khair’s imprisonment under his Twitter account. Badawi continues to speak out on behalf of al-Khair, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for criticizing the government and defending Badawi’s brother, Raif Badawi. In 2012, the Saudi government sentenced Raif to 1,000 lashes and ten years in prison for “insulting Islam” and other related charges.

As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Saudi Arabia has a responsibility to uphold its principles of promoting and protecting human rights. Therefore, it must immediately cease the intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and travel bans imposed against members of civil society.