SANA’A – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Saudi Arabia to allow international independent observers to access Saudi women activists who have been detained since last May, in order to ensure their safety.
On November 23, the Saudi government denied evidence published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that the country’s authorities had tortured and sexually assaulted women prisoners, and that, based on various sources, torture of activists may still be ongoing.
Friday’s newest HRW report said there is every reason to believe that the Saudi authorities have treated the women activists with unspeakable cruelty, “unless independent monitors are able to confirm the women activists’ well-being.”
The Saudi authorities accused the activists of “harming the interests of the Supreme Kingdom, providing financial and moral support to hostile elements abroad,” while media loyal to the government accused them of being “traitors”.
Among the detained activists are Lujane Hathloul, Eman Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef, who were known to defend women’s right to drive and demanded that men end their guardianship over women.
While the Saudi kingdom has since allowed women to drive cars, it still only permits women to leave their house with explicit permission of a male guardian. Many female activists who were originally imprisoned while campaigning for the right to drive, still remain in captivity even now.