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Ongoing Repression, Absence of Civil Society Impede Progress

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia recently announced a series of important and necessary reforms, but ongoing repression and a lack of respect for basic rights are major barriers to progress, Human Rights Watch said today. The repression of independent civil…
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a large billboard in London, England.
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Loujain al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdelaziz Risk Return to Prison if They Speak Out

Prominent Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from prison earlier this week after spending 1,001 days in detention, a testament to the tireless campaign of her family and human rights activists around the globe since her arrest…
Loujain al-Hathloul
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HRW G20 Campaign Calls for Release of All Human Rights Defenders

For more than two years, Saudi Arabia has locked up women’s rights activists who fought for – and won – women’s right to drive. But as the country is gearing up to virtually host the G20 World Leaders’ Summit November 21-22, it looks like the Saudi…
Prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul had been on hunger strike for six days before Saudi authorities finally allowed her parents to visit on August 31, according to family members. Al-Hathloul had spent almost three months before that in incommunicado detention.
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Migrant Workers Face Abuse and Exploitation

There are reports this week that Saudi authorities are seeking to abolish the notorious kafala (sponsorship) system in 2021. Under that system, some 10 million migrant workers’ legal status are tied to their employer—facilitating abuse and…
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Until Activists Are Free, Talk of Reform Rings Hollow

Saudi Arabia will virtually host the Women20 Summit (W20) this week. During the event, over 80 women’s rights experts representing nonprofits, private companies, and academic institutions will discuss “realizing opportunities of the 21st century…
Prominent women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul had been on hunger strike for six days before Saudi authorities finally allowed her parents to visit on August 31, according to family members. Al-Hathloul had spent almost three months before that in incommunicado detention.
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New Human Rights Watch Campaign Against Whitewashing Rights Violations

(Beirut) – The Saudi government has spent billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator, Human Rights Watch said today.…
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The Saudi government has spent billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 2,…
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Male Guardianship, Sexual Harassment Amongst Major Concerns

Over the past two weeks, Saudi women have taken to Twitter, using pseudonyms, to share their experiences with sexual harassment, the reasons behind their hesitance to report these abuses to the authorities, and demands for the abolition of…
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
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Unwarranted Amid Health Risks, Global Travel Restrictions

(Beirut) – People in immigration detention in Gulf countries pending deportation should be given alternatives to detention amid health risks and global travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said today.…
A worker rests at his accommodation in Qadisiya labor camp, Saudi Arabia August 17, 2016.
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Positive Reforms for Women Tainted by Ongoing Arrests of Activists, Dissidents

(Beirut) – Saudi authorities carried out a sweeping campaign of repression against independent dissidents and activists, including two waves of mass arrests, in 2019, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020.    The arrests and…
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during Janadriyah Cultural Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 12, 2018.
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As we approach the last days of the decade, it’s important to reflect on the fight for human rights, the setbacks and successes over the past year in Australia and around the world. Our list isn’t ranked, and far from exhaustive – we…
A Uighur woman picking up school children rides past a picture showing China's President Xi Jinping joining hands with a group of Uighur elders at the Unity New Village in Hotan, in western China's Xinjiang region.
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Arrests, Torture, Murder Accompany Reforms

(Washington, DC) – Important social reforms enacted under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report…
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Other Discriminatory Guardianship Rules Remain

  (Beirut) – Saudi authorities announced further changes to regulations that now allow women over 21 to travel abroad freely and obtain passports without permission from their male guardian. However, the new…
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Freedom to Obtain Passports, But Women Activists Remained Jailed

(Beirut) – The sweeping advances for Saudi women announced by Saudi Arabia will start to dismantle the country’s discriminatory male guardianship system, Human Rights Watch said today. The changes were announced while many of the women activists…
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Google, Apple Should Urge Ending the Male Guardianship System

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s mobile app Absher is used to prevent Saudi women from leaving their country without a male relative’s permission. In a question-and-answer document, Human Rights Watch explains how male guardians use the mobile app to…
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Saudi women's rights activists have been detained for 10 months

  Last week, Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi women's rights activist, was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019.  But Loujain is in jail. She, along with a dozen other women's…
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 12, 2018. © 2018 Reuters
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‘Criminal’ Contacts with Journalists, Diplomats, Rights Groups

(Beirut) – Saudi Arabia’s charges against women’s rights defenders appear almost entirely related to their human rights activities, Human Rights Watch said today. Saudi Arabia opened individual trials on March 13, 2019 of 11 activists,…
(Left to right) Prominent women's rights activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Youssef were all detained in May 2018, seemingly in retaliation for their peaceful activities. Al-Hathloul remains in detention.
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Nassima ran as a candidate in local elections in 2015 before authorities removed her name from the ballot. Hatoon is a professor of women’s history and among the first women to acquire a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia. Loujain…
Screenshot of an animation about domestic abuse and male guardianship in Saudi Arabia