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High Commissioner calls for immediate release of Saudi women detainees

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has expressed her deep concern over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing arbitrary detention of women human rights advocates who have called for women to be empowered to make their own choices, and she called for their release without delay.

The High Commissioner raised her concerns about Saudi Arabia in her global human rights update, under Item 2 of the 45th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on 14 September 2020.

Bachelet emphasized that human rights principles and norms provide effective solutions to building stronger resilience to shocks and crises. She noted that the COVID-19 crisis has collided with many political, social, and economic crises and multiplied their effects. Bachelet believes that this results primarily from political processes that exclude the voices of the people, as well as gaps in human rights protections.

Saudi Arabia has refused to release the women activists despite numerous international appeals and information that confirms that they have been subjected to torture, amid alarming conditions inside prisons and the ongoing cutoff in communication with several of them.

The HRC opened its latest session amid reports of Saudi Arabia’s re-election to membership in the council for the term 2021-2023, despite the country’s ongoing human rights violations. In contrast to official promises and international commitments, Saudi Arabia has not made any real improvement in its human rights situation. The government continues its practices of arbitrary detention, unfair trials, and the issuance and implementation of the death penalty, without any active response to UN mechanisms.

Saudi Arabia has already been a member of the HRC four times in the past, during which time it continued to violate its international commitments. This has compelled ESOHR to call for Saudi Arabia’s dismissal from the council.

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