Together for Justice Calls for an End to Travel Bans on Saudi Activists

Together for Justice renews its call on the international community to put more pressure on the Saudi authorities to lift travel bans on released activists who were subject to lengthy travel bans once they had completed their prison sentences.

Travel ban policy is an unhuman and unjustified measure that clearly violates freedom of movement and family unity right.

The Saudi use of travel bans against activists and human rights defenders reflects a bleak reality in the country, where dissenting voices continue to be ruthlessly silenced for speaking out against human rights violations and demanding a democratic state where basic civil and political rights are protected.

The Saudi feminist activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, who was recently released, is still subjected to a travel ban along with her parents without a clear legal basis.

Her sister Alia, who lives abroad, said can’t return to the Kingdom to meet her parents or Loujain for fear of security prosecution.

It’s been almost 4 years now that I’ve been deprived of my mother and family. I miss you, I love you. I can’t wait for this injustice to end; she wrote on Twitter.

 Her brother Walid Al-Hathloul, who also lives abroad, said he has been deprived of seeing his family for four years.

Like Al-Hathloul family, Al-Sadhan family has expressed fear about their son Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan’s fate after being detained in Saudi prisons nearly four years ago.

Abdul Rahman, who worked with the International Red Crescent humanitarian network in Riyadh, was recently brought to court, where he was sentenced to life in an unfair trial.

Saudi Arabian authorities have also imposed a travel ban on 17 relatives of prominent scholar Salman al-Awda, who has been held in Saudi jails since September 2017.

His son Abdullah, who lives abroad, is deprived of returning to the Kingdom and seeing his family for fear of arbitrary detention.

Saudi Arabian blogger and activist Raif Badawi was released after completing a 10-year prison sentence. But unless his travel ban is lifted, he will not be able to see his wife and children for another 10 years.

On February 11, 2021, women’s rights activist Mariam al-Otaibi was surprised that she is subjected to travel ban.

 Al-Otaibi was a Saudi Arabian writer that was arrested in 2017 due to her activism against the guardianship system. Three months later, she was released but denied applying for a passport.

After a long-awaited victory, she succeeded to apply for a passport. However, she was prevented by the airport security forces from travelling to Georgia despite receiving no travel ban order.

The arbitrary use of travel ban and detention against political and human rights activists’ family members totally violates all international laws and norms, as it effectively curtails their freedom of movement and right to life freely.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country, it further stresses.

Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also states that everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.

In this regard, we call on the United Nations and the Human Rights Council to urgently intervene and pressure the Saudi authorities to lift the travel bans on Saudi activists and their families, and to protect their right to enter or leave their own country.

We also call for joining ‘#LetThemFly’ campaign launched by Amnesty International, highlighting the use of punitive travel bans targeting activists and their families.

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