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Callamard asks states to pressure Saudi Arabia to release activists ahead of the G20 summit

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The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Agnès Callamard, urged Human Rights Council member states to pressure the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to release imprisoned activists ahead of the G20 summit to be held in Riyadh in November.

During the Interactive Dialogue under Item 3 of the 44th session of the HRC on 9 July 2020, Callamard stated that Saudi Arabia must release all prisoners of conscience, women, and human rights advocates currently detained for demanding women’s right to drive.

According to ESOHR’s observations, Saudi Arabia continues to detain 49 women, including several human rights advocates. Reports confirm that many of them have been subjected to torture and ill treatment.

Regarding the murder of journalistJamal Khashoggi, whose case she investigated, the Special Rapporteur declared that there is much that must be done internationally to hold the perpetrators accountable. She also welcomed the beginning of Turkey’s trial in absentia of 20 suspects.

Callamard had previously described the trial held in Saudi Arabia as a farce. At a news conference, she noted that the case remains atop the international public opinion agenda, saying: “I do not think that the media and civil society have forgotten the incident of 15 government officials, on official orders, killing Khashoggi, dismembering his body, and then hiding it.”

The Special Rapporteur’s investigation concluded that senior Saudi officials were involved in the killing. Callamard called on all governments to exercise their universal rights to detain and investigate any person who may be involved in the killing operation, up to and including Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

ESOHR welcomes Callamard’s call for states to pressure Saudi Arabia, emphasizing that the ongoing detention of women’s rights activists, despite international calls, represents a disregard for international obligations and an attitude of pompous obstinacy. Furthermore, ESOHR stresses that Saudi Arabia’s failure to take serious steps to hold responsible the perpetrators of Khashoggi’s killing, and its disregard for the Special Rapporteur’s investigation, call for more effective measures on the part of the HRC and its members.

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