Saudi group decries 'arbitrary' travel bans targeting critics, families

Saudi rights group demands lifting of 'arbitrary' travel bans on critics' families
2 min read
27 October, 2018
A Saudi rights group has called on authorities to lift travel bans on family members of a cleric detained in the kingdom and exiled critics of the government.
The appeal came after Khashoggi's son left Saudi Arabia for the United States [Getty]

A Saudi rights group has called on authorities to lift travel bans on family members of a cleric detained in the kingdom and exiled critics of the government.

Prisoners of Conscience - an activist-run Twitter account that documents those held in Saudi Arabia's crackdown - made the appeal on Friday after Riyadh lifted the travel ban on the son of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"After the arrival of Salah Khashoggi to USA early today, we DEMAND the Saudi authorities to lift the travel ban on all families and children of activists abroad," the group said in a tweet.

The group highlighted the cases of imprisoned cleric Salman al-Awdah and critical self-exiled academics Saeed bin Nasser and Ahmad bin Rashid.

Saudi authorities have imposed travel bans on 17 family members of detained reformist Awdah, who could face the death penalty for tweeting in support of reconciliation with Qatar, according to his son.

Awdah was imprisoned during a sweeping crackdown on dissent led by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a year ago.

Human Rights Watch has documented Saudi Arabia's rampant use of arbitrary travel bans on vocal critics of the government.

"Many Saudi citizens only learn of their ban at airports, land crossings, and passport departments months or years after they were imposed. In many cases the authorities do not inform those banned from travelling of the reasons," according to the group.

The appeal came after Khashoggi's son left Saudi Arabia for the United States after the kingdom revoked a travel ban, following pressure from Washington.

Riyadh has come under increasing international pressure over his abysmal human rights record since the murder of Khashoggi in the kingdoms consulate in Istanbul.