Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (28 December) on the conviction of Saudi human rights activist Loujain al‑Hathloul:
I am deeply disappointed by today’s verdict against Loujain al‑Hathloul in Saudi Arabia. The German Government has repeatedly and urgently called on the Government of Saudi Arabia to release Ms al‑Hathloul. Her case is one of many that illustrate how Saudi authorities are taking excessively harsh action against human and civil rights activists.
There is no justification for convicting a human rights activist for offences under anti-terrorism laws. Ms al‑Hathloul has not engaged in anything that could be deemed punishable behaviour. On the contrary, she has summoned great courage and publicly called for greater self-determination and more rights for Saudi women – a goal that the Government of Saudi Arabia itself meanwhile supports. Reports about Ms al‑Hathloul having been tortured and that she is in ill health are deeply worrying, and it is incomprehensible why the court did not look into these accusations.
Of course, what is encouraging is that now that a judgement has been issued, there is at least the hope that Ms al‑Hathloul will be released soon. Yet this must still actually occur. In that respect, releasing Ms al‑Hathloul at this time, before conclusion of the proceedings, would send a positive Signal.