Personal information

  • Sex: Female
  • Date of birth: 9 November 1988
  • Area of activity: Human rights activist , Women’s rights activist

Salma al-Shehab is a Saudi women’s rights activist, dental hygienist and University of Leeds PhD student who used social media to advocate for women’s rights and imprisoned Saudi human rights activists.

Arrest and jail information

  • Prison: Al-Mabaheth (General Investigations Directorate), Dammam
  • Date of arrest: 15 January 2021

Trial information

  • Charges: The charges filed against her by the Public Prosecution included providing succour to those seeking to disrupt public order and undermine the safety of the general public and stability of the state, and publishing false and tendentious rumours on Twitter.
  • Court: Specialised Criminal Court (SCC)
  • Verdict: 27 years in prison without suspension, to be followed by a travel ban of the same length. 
  • Date of verdict: 25 January 2023

Violations

  • Arbitrary arrest/ detention ,
  • Torture and ill-treatment

Timeline

  • Mid-2023 - Al-Shehab was placed alongside inmates transferred from a psychiatric hospital who experience violent episodes because of a lack of adequate medical care. She has appealed to the official Saudi Human Rights Commission for these inmates to be held separately and receive adequate treatment, but so far to no avail.   
  • May 2023 - ALQST was concerned to learn that al-Shehab’s husband had unexpectedly filed for divorce. The background to this development was not clear, but ALQST is aware of cases in the past where the Saudi authorities have coerced spouses and family members of imprisoned human rights defenders to divorce or disown them.  
  • 3 April 2023 - The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that al-Shehab’s detention was arbitrary, and urged the Saudi authorities to release her and grant her the right to compensation and reparations.
  • 18 April 2023 - She ended her hunger strike in order to be able to take medication for her deteriorating mental and physical health.
  • 23 March 2023 - Salma and seven other detained Saudi women started a hunger strike in protest against their unjust detention and trial, and to demand their immediate and unconditional release.
  • 25 January 2023 - Al-Shehab was resentenced to 27 years in prison, reduced from a 34-year term. The charges initially brought against her under the Anti-Cyber Crime Law were dropped, but the SCC once again heard charges made under the kingdom’s draconian and vaguely formulated Counter-Terrorism Law.
  • 18 January 2023 - The Supreme Court quashed the Appeal Court’s ruling and referred the case back to the SCC for retrial.
  • 9 August 2022 - The Specialised Criminal Court of Appeal sentenced her to 34 years in prison without suspension, to be followed by a travel ban of the same length. 
  • March 2022 - The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced her to six years in prison. 
  • 27 October 2021 - She was brought before the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC).
  • 15 January - 27 October 2021 - She was subjected to lengthy sessions of questioning over a period of 285 days.
  • 15 January 2021 - She was arrested

Other prisoners

prisoner

ِAbbas al-Saeed

Cleric

prisoner

Sukaynah al-Aithan

prisoner

Fahad Ramadan

prisoner

Sarah al-Jar

prisoner

Manal al-Gafiri

--