Short-Lived Organization Closed Under Pressure in 2013
Saudi prosecutors filed criminal charges against two activists in late October 2016, for “forming an unlicensed organization” and other vague charges relating to a short-lived human rights organization they set up in 2013, Human Rights Watch said today. None of the alleged “crimes” listed in the charge sheet resemble recognizable criminal behavior, and none of them took place after October 2013.
The defendants, Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, formed the Union for Human Rights in 2013, but they were unable to obtain a license for the group because Saudi Arabia generally did not allow independent non-charity nongovernmental organizations at that time. In late 2015, Saudi Arabia issued a new law that would theoretically allow such groups to obtain licenses, but authorities have continued to jail and prosecute independent activists based on similar charges.