Reacting to the European Parliament’s condemnation of the ongoing repression and torture of a group of women’s rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia since May 2018, the Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office Covadonga de la Campa said:
‘The European Parliament’s resolution on Saudi Arabia is an important step which acknowledges the incredible courage of these imprisoned men and women, several of whom have been tortured for demanding the end of the male guardianship system, campaigning for women’s right to drive and tirelessly defending human rights.’
‘After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini assured the European Parliament that the EU would support human rights activists “regardless of geopolitics”. It is time for them to come good on this promise and speak out for Saudi detainees, as silent diplomacy has thus far failed to protect them.’
‘These brave women and men must be immediately and unconditionally released, together with all human rights defenders imprisoned for their peaceful activism in Saudi Arabia. Until that happens, the Saudi authorities must accept the European Parliament’s demand to give international monitors unrestricted access to them.’
Amnesty International has collected credible information that several of the activists arbitrarily detained in the May 2018 crackdown were tortured, sexually harassed and otherwise ill-treated during the first three months of their detention.
Women human rights defenders Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada, Shadan al-Anezi and Nouf Abdulaziz among others remain in detention without charge and with no legal representation.Activists have also reported the detention of other women’s rights activists and academics, including Mayaa al-Zahrani, Dr. Abir Namankani, Dr Ruqayyah al-Mharib and Dr. Hatoon al-Fassi.
Shi’a activist Israa al-Ghomgham and her male co-defendants, who are in prison for participation in peaceful protests, before the country’s counter-terror court. The public prosecution dropped the demand for Israa al-Ghomgham’s execution this month but the four men on trial, including her husband, still face the death penalty and she now faces a prison sentence for her peaceful activism.