24 October 2016

Saudi Arabia: “Kingdom of Arbitrary Detention” Campaign Only a First Step

On 12 October 2016, the Alkarama Foundation launched the #KingdomofArbitraryDetention campaign to address arbitrary detention and the prosecution of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. On this occasion, Alkarama released a report, a short film and a joint open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as a social media campaign using the hashtags #KingdomofArbitraryDetention and سعودية_دون_الإعتقال_التعسفي#. The campaign, which lasted 11 days, was launched on the seventh anniversary of the establishment of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) and honours the commitment of its 11 human rights defenders – all of whom have been harshly prosecuted for their peaceful human rights activism – by featuring on every day a profile of each member. Ultimately, we hope that by shedding light on this pressing human rights issue, the campaign will propel the Kingdom's human rights record to the global stage , encourage the Saudi authorities to end its use of arbitrary detention and to respect the fundamental rights of human rights defenders.

After a successful 11-day social media campaign, which engaged Saudi civil society, national and international human rights activists and attracted substantial media attention; Alkarama now calls upon the international community to continue supporting and expanding the campaign. While the peaceful activism of the 11 ACPRA members represents a heroic commitment for equal rights in the Kingdom, the international community must now help in strengthening their voices, and all of the silenced voices of Saudi citizens who fear speaking up for greater human rights will lead to prosecution and imprisonment.

There are many ways we can all contribute to ending the #KingdomofArbitraryDetention. Firstly, international civil society, intergovernmental organisations; like the United Nations, and State actors should all equally denounce human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and demand accountability and reforms. When engaging in economic relationships or partnerships in the global fight against terrorism, State actors should take the Kingdom's human rights record into account and consider how the Saudi authorities are prosecuting peaceful human rights defenders under anti-terrorism legislation. International, regional and local civil society should also continue to unite over social media, using the hashtags #KingdomofArbitraryDetention and سعودية_دون_الإعتقال_التعسفي# to exchange views and raise awareness about recent violations.

Moreover, we appeal to Saudi civil society to continue to report human rights violations to Alkarama, so that we can bring further individual cases before the UN Human Rights Mechanisms. Additionally, Alkarama will keep on monitoring the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee against Torture (CAT), in response to Saudi Arabia's report and review of 22 and 25 April 2016. While our campaign on arbitrary detention and the prosecution of human rights defenders was effective in shedding light on these violations and raising awareness on an international level, it should only be seen as a first of many steps necessary to make human rights a reality on the ground.

For more information or an interview, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).

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