GENEVA / SAUDI ARABIA ARBITRARY DETENTIONS

31-Jul-2018 00:01:59
The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) said it was concerned about the “continuing arrests and apparently arbitrary detentions” of human rights defenders and activists in Saudi Arabia, including women’s rights activists. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / SAUDI ARABIA ARBITRARY DETENTIONS
TRT: 01:59
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 31 JULY 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
31 JULY 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior

31 JULY 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press room
3. Close up, journalist
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“We are concerned about the continuing arrests and apparently arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders and activists in Saudi Arabia, including women’s rights activists. Since 15 May, at least 15 government critics were detained. We understand that eight of them were later temporarily released until the completion of their ‘procedural review’. In some cases, their whereabouts are unknown and there is a serious lack of transparency in the processing of their cases.”
5. Med shot, journalists
6. Close up, journalist
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“We urge the Government of Saudi Arabia to unconditionally release all human rights defenders and activists who have been detained for their peaceful human rights work, including their decades-long campaigns for the lifting of the driving ban for women. Any investigations must be held in a transparent manner, with full respect for due process rights. All human rights defenders should be able to carry out their crucial human rights work without fear of reprisals or prosecution.”
8. Close up, Shamdasani from camera viewfinder
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“From what we can observe, it appears that there are genuine reforms that are taking palace in Saudi Arabia, but this has not extended to the civil and political rights sphere. Dissent, criticism of the Government is still not accepted in the country. That can explain why many of these human rights defenders and activists have been jailed. All of them have criticised government policies in one way or another. So, we are calling on the Government of Saudi Arabia to ensure that these people are not jailed for their peaceful advocacy of human rights in the country.”
10. Wide shot, press room
STORYLINE
The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) said it was concerned about the “continuing arrests and apparently arbitrary detentions” of human rights defenders and activists in Saudi Arabia, including women’s rights activists.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (31 Jul), OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said since mid-May, at least 15 government critics were detained and in some cases, “their whereabouts are unknown” adding that there was a “serious lack of transparency in the processing of their cases.”

Among those who reportedly remain detained are Hatoon al-Fassi, a leading voice for women’s participation in civil life in Saudi Arabia and one of the first women to acquire a Saudi driver’s license. She was detained between 21 and 24 June. Also in detention are human rights defender Khaled Al-Omair, who has not been contactable since he was taken on 6 July to Al-Ha’ir Political Prison; women’s rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Nouf Abdelaziz and Mayaa al-Zahrani. They also include al-Hathloul’s 80-year-old lawyer, Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh, and activist Abdulaziz Meshaal.

Shamdasani urged the Saudi Government to “unconditionally release all human rights defenders and activists who have been detained for their peaceful human rights work, including their decades-long campaigns for the lifting of the driving ban for women.” She noted that any investigations must be held in a “transparent manner, with full respect for due process rights.” The spokesperson stressed that all human rights defenders “should be able to carry out their crucial human rights work without fear of reprisals or prosecution.”

Answering questions by journalists, Shamdasani said that the detention of activists and human rights defenders had already begun in May, before the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia had been lifted. She said the situation was perplexing because it appeared that there are “genuine reforms that are taking palace in Saudi Arabia, but this has not extended to the civil and political rights sphere.” She said dissent and criticism of the Government was “still not accepted” in the country which could explain why many of these human rights defenders and activists have been jailed. She called on the Saudi Government to “ensure that these people are not jailed for their peaceful advocacy of human rights in the country.”
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