NEW YORK (May 24, 2021) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) recently signed a joint letter with a coalition of 12 other organizations calling on President Joseph Biden and his administration to help facilitate the lifting of the travel ban imposed on Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. Loujain was arbitrarily detained for more than 1,000 days for charges related to her activism and was conditionally released on February 10. In March, the Specialized Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia upheld her sentence of five years and eight months in prison, with a partial suspension of two years and 10 months. She is currently subject to three years of probation and a five-year travel ban.
The letter expresses deep concern about Loujain’s safety if she remains in Saudi Arabia. Loujain was arrested in May 2018 and subsequently imprisoned in retaliation for promoting women’s rights and calling for an end to the country’s male guardianship system. From May to August 2018, she was kept in an unknown location and endured extreme physical and psychological torture by Saudi officials, including severe beatings, waterboarding, electric shock, sexual harrassment, and death threats. In addition, Loujain was frequently denied the right to visit or communicate with her family. Under her current probation, she can be re-arrested at any given time for any perceived illegal activity.