Saudi Arabia should release all detained women’s rights activists immediately and unconditionally, international human rights experts said Monday.
They said the Kingdom should also investigate torture allegations.
“We note a failure to launch independent investigations into allegations of torture in Saudi Arabia,” Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN special rapporteur on human rights, said at the panel “Saudi Arabia: Time for Accountability” during the 40th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Michel Forst, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said, “The work of defenders doesn’t go against national security.”
Saudi Arabia use electrocution, flogging and sexual assault as torture methods on detained human rights defenders, said Zaynab Al-Khawaja of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights.
“All detained women’s human rights defenders should be released immediately without any condition. Perpetrators who tortured them have to face justice.”
Al-Khawaja said she was detained several times while campaigning for women’s rights in Bahrain and was released because of international pressure.
“We don’t want human rights defenders to just be released but to be able to continue to do the work they are doing,” she added.
Omaima Al Najjar, an exiled Saudi activist living in London, said Saudi Arabia is distracting the international community from human rights abuses with “cosmetic reforms”.
“Although women can now drive, the women who campaigned for this change are still in prison,” she said.
Al-Khawaja told Anadolu Agency that anyone who wants to improve human rights in the country has been declared an enemy.
“They take naked photographs of women detainees. Because they know our culture well and how to hurt women. That’s why women should be protected,” she said.
Al-Khawaja also said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is giving Saudi Arabia and Bahrain a green light for the sake of economic relations.