Loujain al-Hathloul has been detained since 2018 after being arrested along with several other women’s rights activists.
Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul appeared on Thursday before a special “terrorism court” in Riyadh, her family said, on charges that UN human rights experts called “bogus” when ‘they called for his immediate release.
Al-Hathloul has been detained since 2018 after being arrested along with at least a dozen other women’s rights activists.
Saudi officials said the arrests were made on suspicion of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.
“We are extremely alarmed to learn that Ms. al-Hathloul, who has been in detention for more than two years on spurious charges, is now on trial by a specialized terrorism tribunal,” said Elizabeth Broderick, chair of the task force. United Nations Conference on Discrimination. against women and girls, in a statement.
Hathloul was on trial “for exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” she added.
“We once again call on Saudi Arabia to immediately release Ms. Al-Hathloul, a human rights defender who has greatly contributed to the advancement of women’s rights in a country where gender discrimination and stereotypes run deep. the fabric of society, ”she said. .
Hathloul, now 31, testified before the same UN monitoring group in 2018. After reviewing the kingdom’s record, the group called on him to end discriminatory practices against women, including its ubiquitous male guardianship system, and to give them full access to justice. .
Independent UN investigators on torture, defending human rights, protecting human rights while fighting terrorism and freedom of assembly also co-signed Thursday’s statement.
On Human Rights Day, human rights group Amnesty International said in a tweet that the Saudi government should release Hathloul “immediately and unconditionally today”.
Sure # Human Rights Day #Saudi activist @LoujainHathloul holds his first trial in the “terrorism court” with less than 24 hours’ notice.@KingSalman, Loujain is to be released immediately and unconditionally today. Nothing less.#FreeLoujain #UnmuteSaudiVoices # 16Days # StandUp4HumanRights pic.twitter.com/g00P9ZCo9s
– Amnesty Gulf (@amnestygulf) December 9, 2020
Rights organizations say some of the women, including Hathloul, have been held in solitary confinement for months and subjected to abuse including electric shocks, lashes and sexual assault.
Saudi officials have denied the torture allegations.
The detention of women activists has highlighted the kingdom’s human rights record, which has also come under heavy global criticism for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his consulate in Istanbul.