Saudi Arabia detains rights activist who defied women’s driving ban

Responding to news about the re-arrest of Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul at King Fahad International Airport in Dammam in Saudi Arabia on 4 June, Samah Hadid Director of Campaigns for Amnesty International in the Middle–East said:

“The Saudi Arabian authorities’ continuous harassment of Loujain al-Hathloul is absurd and unjustifiable. It appears she is being targeted once again because of her peaceful work as a human rights defender speaking out for women’s rights, which are consistently trammelled in the kingdom. If so she must be immediately and unconditionally released.

“Instead of upholding its promise of a more tolerant Saudi Arabia, the government has again shattered any notion that it is genuinely committed to upholding equality and human rights.”

Amnesty International learned that Loujain al-Hathloul is due to travel from Dammam to Riyadh at 17:30 local time to be interrogated by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. She has no access to a lawyer and has not been allowed to contact her family. The exact reason for her arrest remains unknown, however Amnesty International believes it is in relation to her human rights activism.

Loujain al-Hathloul is a prominent Saudi Arabian human rights defender who was detained for 73 days after she defied the kingdom’s de facto driving ban for women by attempting to drive into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates on 30 November 2014. Loujain al-Hathloul went on to stand for election in Saudi Arabia in November 2015 – the first time women were allowed to both vote and stand in elections in the state. However, despite finally being recognized as a candidate, her name was never added to the ballot.