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Human Rights Defenders

Individuals who, by themselves or with others, act non-violently to promote or protect human rights are commonly identified as “human rights defenders”. They can be active on behalf of individuals or groups such as children, women, refugees or minorities, and can work to address any human rights concern, ranging from civil and political rights to economic, social and cultural ones. Amongst other activities, human rights defenders all over the world assist and support victims of human rights violations through, for example, legal assistance or counselling, provide trainings and education on human rights standards and collect information to denounce abuses and advocate for justice and accountability. As such, human rights defenders are also using their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly to advocate for the rights and liberties of their fellow-citizens.

As a result of their commitment for human rights and their actions to expose violations committed by the authorities, human rights defenders are often victims of reprisals by the State authorities as well as armed groups that want to silence their voices. Alkarama continues to receive testimonies of human rights defenders in the Arab world subjected to numerous forms of reprisals, which can take the form of an arbitrary detention as well as enforced disappearance, torture or summary execution.  

In order to counter this phenomenon and ensure a safe space for human rights defenders to advocate for the rights of others, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (SR HRD) was created and can receive complaints in relation to acts of reprisals they may have suffered.

(14 February 2017) Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, has been unlawfully detained for over two months, held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum’s Kober Prison without charge or access to legal representation, 39 human rights groups and activists said.

On 8 February 2017, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concerning the case of Yousri Kamal Mohamed Abdallah, a 30-year-old Egyptian activist who was arrested on 22 December 2016 by members of the National Security Forces. To date, and despite the numerous letters and requests introduced by his father to the authorities, the latter still refuse to disclose his fate and whereabouts.

On 24 January 2017, Alkarama solicited the Special Rapporteur on torture (SRT) on behalf of the Sudanese opposition activists Elwaleed Imam Taha and Elgassim Mohamed Sid-Ahmad, who are currently detained in Al Ha’ir Prison, Saudi Arabia, but fear imminent extradition to Sudan, where they are at high risk of being subjected to torture and prosecuted for making use of their fundamental right to freedom of expression.

On 5 January 2017, Ahmed Maher Ibrahim Tantawy, founder of the 6 April Youth Movement, was released after having served a three-year sentence. However, he remains under judicial supervision for three more years, a measure which entails that the activist must spend every night in police custody at his district police station from 6 pm to 6 am.

On 7 December 2016, Mudawi Ibrahim Adam Mudawi, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, was abducted by members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum University.

On 17 November 2016, Alkarama wrote to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders (SR HRD) regarding the case of two Saudi activists, Mohamed Al Otaibi and Abdullah Al Atawi, who are currently put on trial before the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) due to their peaceful human rights activism. The next trial hearing is set for 26 December 2016.

GENEVA (17 November 2016) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has renewed its call for Saudi Arabia to release nine human rights activists who were jailed after participating in activities relating to the promotion and protection of human rights.

The men should be freed immediately as their detention is in violation of international human rights standards, according to the expert panel which assesses cases independently in the light of international law.

On 19 October 2016, a group of seven United Nations human rights experts* issued a press release to express their "serious concern" about the situation of activists from the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement Initiative (IRA Mauritania) "imprisoned for their alleged role in a demonstration against forced evictions in Nouachkott" and "targeted by the government for their anti-slavery advocacy".

Arbitrary detentions, secret trials and lengthy prison sentences are the shared fate of anyone who dares to speak up about Saudi Arabia's human rights record or demand basic freedoms from within the Kingdom. Alkarama sheds light on the institutionalised repression practiced by Saudi authorities and honours the fight for human rights led by one of the Kingdom's most prominent group of victims: ACPRA, the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

On 29 September 2016, 20 human rights defenders* and relatives of disappeared people were violently arrested by the police as they were peacefully demonstrating outside the National Assembly headquarters in Algiers.