Saudi Arabia: 10 year travel ban imposed on writer and human rights defender Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari
Beirut, 10 April, 2012 – On 8 April 2012 human rights defender Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari was told by the Department of Immigration, while trying to cross the King Fahd Causeway on his way to Bahrain, that the Ministry of Interior has imposed a 10 year travel ban on him that started with his release from prison in late February.
On 24 February 2012 Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari was released from prison on bail by the order of the Minister of Interior in Saudi Arabia following twenty months of arbitrary detention.
Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari is a writer and prominent advocate of human rights who champions reform and democratic change in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in June 2010 and charged with “disturbing others” through his writings, a charge that the Court of First Instance later dismissed.
This arbitrary travel ban means that Shawq, the daughter of Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari, will not be able to travel to America to complete her studies because her father is the only person permitted to accompany her, according to the Saudi laws in force.
Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari stated: “They have taken this action because of my peaceful activities in defence of human rights.” He added: “This ban is a violation of all treaties signed by Saudi Arabia to protect human rights.”
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes that Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari has been targeted as a result of his peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular his work to promote reforms and democracy in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf centre for Human Rights is concerned that this latest travel ban on Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari forms part of an ongoing trend of harassment against human rights defenders by the government in Saudi Arabia.
The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to:
-Immediately and unconditionally remove the travel ban imposed on writer and human rights defender Sheikh Mukhlif Al-Shammari and refrain from targeting and harassing him;
-Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in KSA are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.