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At the Human Rights Council: Saudi Arabia denies its practices against female detainees

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s representative to the HRC, Abdulaziz Al-Wasil, denied that arrests targeting several female human rights advocates are linked to their human rights activities, claiming that the arrests are linked to their actions in violation of public law.

On 15 September 2020, Al-Wasil responded to the statement of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, which was given under Item 2 of the 45th session of the HRC, and in which Bachelet called for the release of detainees. In his response, Al-Wasil said that Saudi Arabia has guaranteed these women full enjoyment of their rights as detainees, that they are currently subject to judicial processes that ensure a fair trial, and that laws and regulations guarantee freedom of opinion and expression.

ESOHR maintains that it is impossible to verify the reliability of official Saudi statements. The case of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is perhaps the most prominent evidence of falsification of facts.

While female detainees face charges such as communicating with the media and expressing opinions, Saudi Arabia claims before the HRC that their detentions have nothing to do with their activities. Although no verdicts have been issued against these women two years since their arrests, and amid some of them being prevented from communicating with their families for months, Saudi Arabia still says they are receiving fair trials.

Furthermore, Al-Wasil claimed that the detainees are enjoying all their rights, even though they confirmed before the judge their subjection to the worst forms of torture and ill treatment.

ESOHR emphasizes that Saudi Arabia uses systematic misinformation before the HRC and its member states and that attempts to promote reform, especially in the area of human rights, do not appear in any form in the Saudi government’s handling of the detention of female activists. In light of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing falsification of the facts before the HRC’s member states and its continued disregard, since 2006, for requests to visit from the special rapporteur on torture, it is impossible to discuss any cooperation or official positive compliance from Saudi Arabia with UN mechanisms.

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