Human rights defenders have been convicted and sentenced to harsh sentences – in some cases up to 30 years in prison – following lengthy unfair trials. And when they are finally released (either after the sentence has ended or after their early release decisions have been issued), these release decisions include conditions that will effectively perpetuate the violation of their rights when they are out of jail. These conditions include the prohibition of public speaking, the prohibition of travel and the violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and freedom of movement abroad.
Travel bans are official orders – usually issued following a court order or by the police – that prevent a particular citizen, woman or group of citizens from entering or leaving the country and whose official purpose is to use them when necessary in cases involving For financial crimes, detention cases or criminal investigations. However, Amnesty International has documented cases in which travel bans have been imposed without a court order or by the police, and without informing those detained to travel about the ban, but rather letting them find out when they try to travel. These “unofficial” travel bans are mainly aimed at relatives of peace activists in Saudi Arabia, in what clearly appears to be a retaliatory measure by their relatives.
These travel bans – both judicial and non-judicial – are simply another aspect of a model of repression, a tactic used by the authorities to stifle independent and critical voices at home and abroad.
Based on the documentation and continuous monitoring of the cases of persons who have been tried and prosecuted for their right to freedom of expression, the organization has documented the cases of 30 persons who are subject and are currently subject to travel ban decisions that are pronounced them as part of court decisions, and the cases of 39 persons who are subject to travel ban decisions Unofficial travel simply because they are relatives of activists in court or in exile. Between November and December 2021, Amnesty International spoke with eight of these people to better understand the damage these decisions have caused to their daily lives.
On June 17, 2021, Raif Badawi was arrested and in 2014 sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by a 10-year travel ban, a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (approximately US $ 267,000) for setting up an online forum for public. debate and accusations of insulting Islam. He was also sentenced to a cruel and inhuman sentence of 1000 lashes. The first 50 lashes were made In a public square in Jeddah on January 9, 2015. Raif Badawi was released on March 11, 2022 after days had elapsed beyond his sentence, but he remains barred from traveling outside the kingdom for ten years from the date of his release. Raef did not see his family in Canada during his imprisonment and he may not be able to meet his wife and children for the next ten years unless the travel ban is lifted.
A prominent human rights and women’s rights defender, arrested in May 2018, released on parole in March 2019. She is subject to a five-year travel ban. Her son Salah al-Haydar, journalist and writer, was also arrested in 2019 and released on bail in February 2021, with a two-year travel ban.
Read the testimony of Sarah Al-Haider, daughter of Aziza Al-Yousef and sister of Salah Al-Haider, below
A prominent reformist cleric, arrested since September 2017, risks the death penalty. All 19 members of his family in Saudi Arabia are subject to unofficial travel bans. His son Abdullah Al-Awda and his wife live in the United States and they cannot return to the Kingdom for fear of prosecution. The couple received indirect threats and succumbed to attempts to lure them to Saudi Arabia, but they managed to avoid such attempts.
Read the testimony of Dr. Abdullah al-Awda, son of Sheikh Salman al-Awda, presented below
Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan
An aide to the Saudi Red Crescent, who was arrested, was vaguely detained and forcibly disappeared for two years, from his arrest on March 12, 2018, until he was allowed to contact his family for the first time. seen on 12 February 2020. On 5 April 2020 Sentenced to 20 years in prison, followed by a 20-year travel ban on charges related to the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
Read the testimony of Areej Al-Sadhan, sister of Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, presented below
A former businessman and activist, he currently lives in Lebanon after fleeing Saudi Arabia in 2016 for fear of being prosecuted for his political views. The father, mother, wife and his five children live in Saudi Arabia and are subject to an unofficial travel ban. Ali Hashem has not seen his family since 2018.
Read the testimony of Ali Hashem below
Umm Nasser (nickname)
The widow of an activist from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, who was executed by the Saudi authorities. She lives inside Saudi Arabia and she and all her children are subject to an unofficial travel ban.
Read the testimony of Umm Naser below
A prominent human rights defender was sentenced in December 2020 by the Specialized Criminal Court to five years and eight months in prison following a highly unfair trial. Loujain stated that she had been subjected to torture, sexual harassment and death threats in prison. Following increasing international pressure, the Criminal Court in Riyadh announced, in December 2020, that it would open an investigation led by the Public Prosecutor’s Office into a claim by Loujain Al-Hathloul that she had been tortured in custody, but the judge thus closed. called the inquiry, at the hearing on December 22, the first is 2020, and he denied that Loujain al-Hathloul had been subjected to any form of torture and refused to give her a copy of the decision. Loujain Al-Hathloul appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. In February 2021 she was released on bail, but she remains on probation for two years and ten months, the remainder suspended from prison sentence and faces a five-year travel ban. In addition, Loujain Al-Hathloul’s mother and father have been subject to an unofficial, unjustified and indefinite travel ban since 2018.
Read the testimony of Lina Al-Hathloul, sister of Loujain Al-Hathloul, below
A journalist was sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison, followed by an eight-year travel ban. He was released in 2021, but remains subject to a travel ban and cannot be reunited with his wife and children living outside the kingdom.
Read the testimony of Salam, Fahd’s wife, given below