President Obama: Press for release of detained human rights defenders in Gulf region

07.04.2016

US President Barack Obama should press for the release of all detained human rights defenders across the Gulf region who are imprisoned solely due to their peaceful and legitimate human rights work when he meets with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on 21 April, ISHR and 10 other leading NGOs said today.

(Geneva) - US President Barack Obama should press for the release of all detained human rights defenders across the Gulf region who are imprisoned solely due to their peaceful and legitimate human rights work when he meets with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on 21 April, ISHR and 10 other leading NGOs said today.

In an open letter to the President, the NGOs said that, 'instead of working with human rights defenders to combat extremism and build tolerant societies, authorities in the GCC countries have jailed dozens of them, in some cases for life, simply for exercising their right and duty to promote and protect human rights.'

Among other cases highlighted in the letter, the NGOs urge President Obama to press for leaders and authorities in Gulf States to:

  • Release human rights defenders in Bahrain, including Zainab and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Naji Fateel, and ensure their protection from any harassment, torture, and persecution in relation to their peaceful human rights activities;
  • Release all human rights defenders jailed in Saudi Arabia, including Raif Badawi, Walid Abu Al-Khair and members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association;
  • Release all human rights defenders jailed in the United Arab Emirates, including Dr Mohammed Al-Roken and Dr Mohammed Al-Mansoori; netizen Osama Al-Najjar; and Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith;
  • Free human rights defender Saeed Jadad in Oman, and protect freedom of expression and press freedom, for example by ending the persecution of Mowaten; and
  • Allow human rights organisations to function freely and play a role in civil society in all Gulf countries.

The NGOs signing the letter are:

  1. Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
  2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  3. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  4. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  5. Front Line Defenders
  6. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  7. Human Rights First
  8. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  9. Nazra for Feminist Studies
  10. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  11. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Category:

Region
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • North America
Topic
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
Country
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States