On Monday 13th February 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) in Jeddah summoned the human rights defender Samar Badawi for investigation on Wednesday 15th February at 10 o’clock. They did not inform her of the reason for the call.
The summons before the BIP, a body which is overseen by the interior minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, raises serious concerns that it is her human rights work that was the cause of the summons, especially when considering that Badawi has faced several incidents of harassment by the authorities in the past based on her human rights activities. In January 2016, the BIP summoned Badawi and arrested her on appearance at the Bureau, on charges including inciting public opinion and managing an account on Twitter.
On 3rd December 2014, Saudi officials banned Samar from travelling to attend the European Union NGO forum in Brussels to which she had been formally invited. Officials informed her that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) ordered the travel ban. The officials stated the ban was for an indefinite period of time. The Saudi authorities banned her from travel after she delivered an oral statement on 16th September 2014 at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The repeated harassment that Badawi has been subjected to led the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) to call for an end to the targeting of Samar, and contextualize such targeting as part of a wider escalating pattern by the Saudi authorities to prosecute activists and human rights defenders, despite calls by United Nations experts to end this alarming practice.
ESOHR also express serious concerns with regards to the freedom of activist Samar Badawi, as the previous cases confirmed the intent of the government to arrest activists while attending a summons request , and this is what happened recently with activist Isa al-Nukhaifi, and activists Ahmed Al-Mayshaykhes and Essam Koshak.
ESOHR calls upon the Saudi government to respect the Badawi’s right of freedom of expression and opinion, and calls for the Saudi authorities to stop the prosecution and targeting of human rights defenders based on their exercise of legitimate rights and human rights activities.