Tuesday, March 26, 2019
banner
Home /  Gulf  /  Saudi women activists go on trial after yearlong detention

Saudi women activists go on trial after yearlong detention

Saudi women activists go on trial after yearlong detention

AFP
Riyadh
Ten Saudi women appeared in court Wednesday for the first time since being detained last year in a sweeping crackdown on activists, ratcheting up scrutiny of the kingdom’s human rights record.
The trial of the women, who have been held for nearly a year without charge, comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to placate international criticism over last year’s brutal murder of insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Prominent activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Hatoon al-Fassi, Aziza al-Yousef and Eman al-Nafjan were among those who attended Riyadh’s criminal court, where they heard charges raised against them, court president Ibrahim al-Sayari said.
Family members of the women–some of whom allegedly faced torture and sexual harassment during interrogation–were permitted to attend the opening court session, but reporters and western diplomats were barred from entering. The charges against the women were not immediately disclosed to the public.
“It now seems that the authorities will charge the women’s rights activists, after keeping them in detention for nearly one year without any access to lawyers, and where they faced torture, ill treatment and sexual harassment,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East campaigns director Samah Hadid.
“The authorities are now treating defending women’s rights as a crime, which is a dangerous escalation in the country and their crackdown on human rights activism,” Hadid said. Sayari said the women detainees had been granted access to independent lawyers, a claim previously contested by several family members.
More than a dozen activists were arrested in May last year, just a month before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on women drivers. Some were subsequently released.
The detained activists have been accused of “coordinated activity to undermine the security, stability and social harmony of the kingdom”, the public prosecutor said earlier this month. State-backed media have previously branded them as traitors and “agents of embassies”.

Subscribe to our Whatsapp Service

POST A COMMENT