Publication date: 17/11/2023

On 12 October 2023, ALQST and more than 70 digital and human rights organisations wrote to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, urging him to reverse the decision to allow Saudi Arabia to host the next Internet Governance Forum annual meeting. The organisations expressed concern that Saudi Arabia’s deeply troubling human rights record would effectively make it unviable for civil society to freely and safely participate in the meeting, given the serious physical and digital security risks that face those attempting to peacefully voice dissent in the country.

In their letter, the organisations draw attention to Saudi Arabia’s deteriorating human rights record, in particular highlighting the ongoing violations in relation to freedom of expression and Saudi Arabia’s extensive use of spyware against journalists. The letter addressed emblematic cases of such violations, included the lack of justice and accountability for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the extraordinarily long prison sentence passed against Leeds University PhD student Salma al-Shehab (27 years) for her peaceful tweets in support of women’s rights, as well as the death sentence issued to 54-year old retired teacher, Mohammed al-Ghamdi, for his peaceful expression on social media.

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