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Meriam Aloteebe: The Saudi Authorities should Lift Travel Ban on All Activists and Opponents

On February 11, Saudi activist Meriam Aloteebe was banned from travelling as she attempted to travel to Georgia, claiming that her name was included in the travel ban list, despite not being officially informed of this decision.

In April 2017, Meriam Aloteebe launched a campaign demanding the lifting of restrictions imposed on Saudi women, especially male guardianship. Despite her release after three months, she faced difficulties in renewing her passport, without clarifications.

This year and after four years of suffering, Aloteebe was finally allowed to renew her passport which means that she doesn’t have any legal impediment to her traveling and leaving the country.

Aloteebe posted a video on her Twitter account that she was banned from boarding the plane as she discovered at the airport that her name was on the list of people banned from traveling.

Aloteebe is subjected to a clear violation of international covenants and conventions that guarantee a person the right and freedom of movement without restrictions, as Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every person has “the right to freedom of movement and to choose a place of residence within or outside the borders of the state, and every individual has the right to Leaving any country, including his, and returning to his country.” However, the authorities have deprived Aloteebe of this right, like the rest of the opponents, who are banned from traveling together with their families.

The families of dissidents and detainees in Saudi Arabia suffer from a policy of collective punishment that exposes them to arbitrary deprivation from leaving the country in order to abuse their dissident families. They are either detained inside the country or persecuted abroad, like the family of the detained preacher Salman Al-Odah, as well as the family of activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was also banned from travelling and placed under house arrest, despite being released for over a year now.

We stress that everyone has the right to move freely within or outside the country, as Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the freedom of a person to leave any territory in a state may not be subject to any specific purpose or depend on the period that he chooses During which the person stays outside the country. Thus, travel abroad is guaranteed by the article in addition to leaving for the purpose of permanent immigration, and the right of the individual to determine the country he is going to is part of the legal guarantee.

We also call on the United Nations and the relevant bodies to urgently intervene and pressure the Saudi authorities to lift the travel ban on all opponents, activists, and their families, and allow them to leave the country and return to it freely without fear of persecution.

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