Loujain al-Hathloul

Loujain al-Hathloul     Saudi Arabia     Age 30

Women’s Rights Activist


Loujain has been arrested several times for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. She was first arrested and detained, for 73 days, on 1st December 2014 after an attempt to cross the border in her car from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia though she had a UAE driving licence.

In September 2016 she was one of 14,000 signatories to a petition to King Salman requesting the Male Guardianship system be abolished. She was arrested again in June 2017, the reason was unclear and she was denied access to a lawyer and contact with her family.

Loujain was kidnapped from the UAE in March 2018 and deported to Saudi Arabia, when she was arrested for a few days. They put a travel ban on her. On 15th May 2018 she was again detained along with others campaigning for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch interpreted the purpose of the arrests to frighten “anyone expressing scepticism about the crown prince’s rights agenda”.

In June 2018 women were granted the right to drive in Saudi Arabia.

But Loujain remained under arrest. According to Al Qst (the Saudi Human Rights Organisation) and Amnesty International she and several other women were tortured. Torture techniques included being beaten on the feet, given electric shock treatment, whipped and waterboarding; these occurred between May and August 2018.

On 13th March 2019 her trial began though the charges were not specified. In April 2019 a hearing of her case was postponed with no reason given. Loujain has been offered release in return for denying torture.


On 30th January 2020 Loujain appeared before the court.

The prosecutor mentioned the charges. The next trial is in two weeks.

In a hearing held January 31, according to reports received by PEN America, the prosecutor presented the same charges that were filed in 2019, and tomorrow’s  hearing  (on 12th February) will provide the defendants with the opportunity to respond.

On 12th February in the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyad hearing she was asked to submit her defence at the next hearing scheduled for 11th March 2020. Again postponed no reason given. Rescheduled for 18th March 2020. Again postponed.

On 28th December 2020 Sentenced to 5 years 8 months in prison.


LOUJAIN al-HATHLOUL on Wikipedia                     LOUJAIN al-HATHLOUL at Front Line Defenders








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