Creating new perspectives since 2009

Amnesty calls on Saudi Arabia to unconditionally release female human rights defenders

May 16, 2020 at 11:03 am

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was arrested by Saudi forces in 2018 [Emna Mizouni / Wikipedia]

Marking two years of the detention of prominent female human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, on Friday, Amnesty International called on King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to release them.

In a report published on its website, Amnesty International announced that the female human rights activists were arrested on 15 May, 2018 after they had been peacefully advocating for years for the right of women in the kingdom to drive, as well as broader reforms related to the repressive male guardianship system.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, stated: “It is heartbreaking that two years have now passed with these brave women still behind bars, especially as during this time Saudi women have been enjoying some of the newfound rights they had fought so hard for.”

Maalouf added: “In prison, many suffered mental and physical anguish – including torture, sexual abuse and solitary confinement. Scores of others, though released, still face trial based on charges relating to their peaceful activism.”

READ: Saudi Arabia to end flogging as form of punishment, claims document

“It is time the Saudi Arabian leadership stopped using the judiciary as a Damocles sword hanging above activists’ heads. Saudi Arabia’s ‘reform drive’ cannot be considered credible as long as these women and other peaceful activists are still being targeted for their work.”

Therefore, Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders solely detained in connection with their peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression, association and assembly.

According to Amnesty International, currently 13 women’s rights activists remain on trial, facing prosecution for their activism.

Of the 13, five remain in detention: Loujain Al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sada, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya’a Al-Zahrani.