Rights Groups Condemn Riyadh over Trial of Women Activists

Elias Hubbard
March 4, 2019

"These women's rights activists should be released from detention for their peaceful activism not referred to trial", said Samah Hadid, the organisation's Middle East campaigns director.

Prosecutors issued the statement late Friday, referring to their earlier June statement that marked the activists' arrest just before Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive.

More than a dozen activists were arrested in May previous year - just before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on female drivers the following month. Many of them were accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state.

Amnesty International called Friday's announcement a "shocking sign of the kingdom's escalating crackdown on activists" and demanded "the immediate release of prisoners of conscience".

The prosecutor did not specify the charges nor give a date for their trial.

Saudi Arabia's cabinet has approved electronic visas for foreign visitors to attend sporting events and concerts, local media reported, as the world's top oil exporter tries to diversify its economy and open up its society.

The visiting dignitary will be carrying an important message from Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman aimed at de-escalating the rising tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.

"Let us see the end result and then judge, not jump to conclusions".

Hunt also met Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf on his Gulf tour, which includes stopovers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Twenty jailed women's rights activists are set to face trail in Saudi Arabia with reports suggesting the detainees are suffering torture in custody.

A Saudi official has said the allegations of mistreatment and torture of the female detainees were "false ... and have no connection to the truth".

Following their arrest, state-backed newspapers published front-page pictures of some of the activists with the word "traitor" stamped across them in red.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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