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Saudi Arabia | Free Saudi Activists Coalition condemns the sentencing of Saudi women’s rights defenders

On 28 December 2020, Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced Saudi women human rights defenders Loujain Al-Hathloul and Miyaa al-Zahrani to 5 years and 8 months in prison.

According to ALQST for Human Rights, the SCC sentenced woman human rights defender Miyaa Al-Zahrani to 5 years and 8 months in prison, with 2 years and 10 months suspended.

The SCC also sentenced woman human rights defender Loujain Al-Hathloul to 5 years and 8 months in prison. The sentence includes a suspension of 2 years and 10 months in addition to the time already served. Al-Hathloul is also required to serve three years of probation during which time she could be arrested for any perceived illegal activity. She will also be placed on a 5-year travel ban.

The Free Saudi Activists Coalition* condemns the verdict, urges all States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their continued violation of human rights, and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained Saudi women and human rights defenders.

According to a 2019 report by the American Bar Association, the Saudi SCC has been used to target human rights activists and ‘routinely convicts individuals of terrorism charges without any meaningful evidence’.

On 15 May 2018, the Saudi government began a campaign of arrests of Saudi womn's rights defenders. Whilst five of the women human rights defenders detained in 2018 have been provisionally released, Loujain Al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdulaziz, Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah, Mohammed Al-Bajadi, and Miyaa Al-Zahrani remain in detention.

During their detention, there have been multiple reports that the women human rights defenders have been tortured, including being electrocuted, waterboarded, and sexually assaulted. No one was held accountable for their torture.

The Free Saudi Activists Coalition consists of Equality Now, Women’s March Global, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights Bahrain (ADHRB), Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and CIVICUS,

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