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Saudi Arabia: End Prosecution of Women’s Rights Activists
In response to recently announced national security charges against seven prominent women’s rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef, who if convicted could receive lengthy prison sentences, and potentially the death penalty, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should drop the charges against Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and the other women’s rights activists who have been arrested after long pressing for women’s right to drive and the end to laws requiring male guardianship for women,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs. “These prosecutions stand in stark contrast to the image of modernity and moderation that Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman seeks to portray. The unprecedented level of suppression of the country’s leading women’s rights defenders is an effort to block their contacts with the international community and thus prevent them from challenging the nature of his ‘reform agenda.’ The United States, which has declared its support for reform in Saudi Arabia, should prioritize the safety and release of all these activists.”
At least 17 women’s rights activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the past several weeks, nine of whom are still believed to be detained. On May 31, 2018, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for the unconditional release of the women’s rights activists as well as all other human rights defenders in the country, while the U.S. Government has said only that it is monitoring the situation.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.