UN experts urge Saudi Arabia to immediately release women's rights activists

Published 12.10.2018 16:06
Updated 12.10.2018 17:21
A Saudi Arabian flag flies behind barbed wires at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 12, 2018. (AFP Photo)
A Saudi Arabian flag flies behind barbed wires at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 12, 2018. (AFP Photo)

United Nations experts called for the immediate release of more than a dozen female human rights activists, including Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, in Saudi Arabia and reproached the incident with highest measures on Wednesday.

U.N. special expert Michel Forst, U.N. Freedom of Speech expert David Kaye and U.N. special expert of Ending Violence Against Women Dubravka Simonovic and other authorities released a joint statement in reaction to Saudi government officials' detainment of the female activists. Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah

"We condemn Saudi officials over the arrest of six female Saudi activists. And we demand all the charges are dropped and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained while pursuing their legitimate activities in the promotion and protection of women's rights in Saudi Arabia," the special rapporteurs and experts said in a statement.

Among the detained activists Israa Al-Ghomgham faces possible execution. The experts have called the situation "reprehensible". They said they were in touch with Saudi authorities.

"It is reprehensible that Ms. Al-Ghomgham is facing the death penalty for asserting her fundamental human right to peaceful assembly. No one should ever be punished for exercising their most fundamental human rights, much less face the death penalty," the statement said.

"We wish to remind the Saudi government of its obligation to protect and promote the rights of all human rights defenders."

These two recent arrests have only been a symptom of a deeply-rooted severe human rights violation problem in Saudi Arabia. There have been many other cases in the kingdom's past.

Isra El Ghomgham was convicted for attending peaceful demonstrations then jailed in 2015; Nouf Abdülaziz, Mayya El Zahrani and Hatoon El Fassi were taken into custody for joining a women's rights campaign, the U.N. experts said.

The experts added that these arrests and detainments seem very counterintuitive, especially after recently allowing women to drive.

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