On March 28, 2019, authorities reportedly arrested King Saud University law professor Anas al-Mazrouee, shortly after he denounced the detention of women’s rights and human rights activists in the country.
Al-Mazrouee spoke at the International Book Exhibition in Riyadh about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the growing crackdown on dissent and called for the release of human rights activists. A video of al-Mazrouee’s speech quickly circulated over social media, and shortly thereafter, authorities reportedly arrested him. Information regarding al-Mazrouee’s location and any charges against him is unknown as of this report.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against such conduct, so long as it is carried out peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, arbitrary arrests undermine freedom of expression, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.