European envoys urge Saudi Arabia to launch ladies’s rights activists

Family of Saudi Arabia's 'most outspoken' political prisoner calls on G20 to hold kingdom to account


Hathloul appeared in a Saudi court docket on Wednesday, as her trial was scheduled to begin after 900 days in pre-trial detention.

The court docket as a substitute referred the case to the Specialized Criminal Court for terrorism and nationwide safety instances, in line with an announcement from her household and supporters, despatched to Source.

“We remain deeply concerned by the continued detention of at least five women’s right activists in Saudi Arabia. We regret that the cases of Loujain Al-Hathloul and Samar Badawi have now been referred to the Special Criminal Court for terrorism and national security cases,” human rights ambassadors for the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Luxembourg and Finland mentioned in an announcement.

Hathloul, 31, was jailed in May 2018 throughout a sweep that focused distinguished opponents of the dominion’s former legislation barring ladies from driving. The crackdown occurred simply weeks earlier than the ban was lifted, casting doubt on a reform agenda put ahead by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The court docket she appeared in on Wednesday mentioned it might examine Hathloul’s allegations of torture in jail, in line with the household’s assertion. Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of torture and sexual abuse of their prisons. A brand new trial date hasn’t been introduced but.   

Badawi had also campaigned against the driving ban and in opposition to the imprisonment of her former husband, rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, in addition to her brother, blogger Raif Badawi. 

“Peaceful activism, and advocating for women’s rights is not a crime. Human rights defenders can be a strong partner for governments in addressing concerns within society,” the ambassadors mentioned.

“We join the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Rapporteurs and Treaty Bodies in reiterating our call for the release of all political detainees, including the women’s rights activists.”

Source has reached out to the Saudi authorities for a response. 

In an interview with Source’s Nic Robertson earlier this month, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Jubeir mentioned Hathloul’s case “was up to the courts” and that “she’s on trial for matters related to national security.”

An Amnesty International consultant for the Middle East, Lynn Maalouf, mentioned the Specialized Criminal Court was “an institution used to silence dissent and notorious for issuing lengthy prison sentences following seriously flawed trials.”

“This is yet another sign that Saudi Arabia’s claims of reform on human rights are a farce,” Maalouf said. 

In a six-page cost sheet for Hathloul’s case, seen by Source, a piece entitled “crimes committed” included activism in opposition to the dominion’s restrictive male guardianship legal guidelines, together with contact with international journalists and diplomats.

Chairman of US House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff known as on Saturday for Hathloul’s instant launch, saying on Twitter she had “endured torture and abuse for over 2 years while detained.” 

On Thursday, the US Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs said it was “concerned” by reviews that the instances of Hathloul and Badawi had been transferred to the terrorism court docket. 

“Activism on behalf of (women’s) rights is not a crime. Also troubled by allegations of abuse against them & a lack of transparency/access to the trials,” the bureau’s press workplace wrote on Twitter. 

The assertion from Hathloul’s household and supporters mentioned she had began a second starvation strike on October 26 in protest of her jail circumstances and since she was denied communication along with her kin.

The assertion mentioned she was pressured to halt her strike after two weeks as authorities woke her up a number of occasions throughout the night time, inflicting her to really feel exhausted.

The assertion mentioned she regarded “weak in court, that her body was shaking uncontrollably and that her voice was faint and shaky.” 

Her sister, Lina al-Hathloul, mentioned that she and her household had obtained no updates on Hathloul since she started her starvation strike till Tuesday, the day earlier than she was as a result of seem in court docket.

“And during this time the Saudi government, instead of responding to our repeated inquiries on Loujain’s health, they have blocked our requests and denied us access to Loujain,” she mentioned within the assertion.



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