From Human Rights Watch
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received reports confirming that Women Human Rights Defender (WHRD) Loujain Al-Hathloul will face her first hearing tomorrow, 13 March 2019, before the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC).
Further reports confirm that WHRDs, Aziza Al-Yousef and Eman Al-Nafjan will also be brought to trial before the SCC on the same date,13 March 2019.
Al-Hathloul is a prominent Saudi WHRD, a social media figure, and one of the leaders of the right to drive campaign. She was arrested and detained on 17 May 2018 as part of a massive crackdown by the Saudi authorities against human rights defenders and women’s activists in the country. Al-Hathloul had previously been detained on 01 December 2014 for 75 days and again in June 2017 for her involvement in the driving campaign in Saudi Arabia.
The trial was announced shortly after the release of a joint statement by 36 United Nations (UN) member states led by Iceland during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UN-HRC) demanding the release of the Saudi WHRDs.
Al-Hathloul was initially held in incommunicado and has been denied access to all legal support. She has also reportedly been subjected to severe torture, both psychological and physical including sexual assaults. For more information, please refer to GCHR report, “TREAT WOMEN KINDLY! REPORT ON TORTURE OF WHRDS INSIDE SAUDI PRISONS”. The report confirms that torture is systematic and institutionalised within the Saudi legal system and is used to punish human rights defenders.
In recent days the Al-Hathloul family have spoken out on social media giving details of her torture and the denial of her rights to file complaints against her torturers as well as her right to legal representation and support.
Her brother Walid Al-Hathloul tweeted on 10 March 2019: “My sister @LoujainHathloul will be having her first trial session next Wednesday at 8am at the specialized court in Riyadh. This is the court that deals with terrorism cases.” He added:” She was not allowed to have a lawyer nor she was provided with the list of indictments.”
The GCHR is deeply concerned about the well-being of Loujain Al-Hathloul, Aziza Al-Yousef and Eman Al-Nafjan and other WHRDs who have been detained for over 300 days, and are further concerned about the prospects of them receiving a fair trial. Prosecutions in Saudi Arabia have long been characterised by breaches of fair trial standards, in particular the use of torture, the refusal to allow independent legal advice and a failure to hold trials in public so as to allow proper scrutiny.
Read full report here.