UK MPs: Saudi female activists face torture in jails

The treatment of female activists at the hands of Saudi Arabia’s authorities is “cruel and inhumane” that reaches the threshold of torture under the international law, the cross-party panel of three British MPs concluded.

The panel’s findings have further infuriated the Western allies of the Kingdom over the barbarous crackdown on human rights defenders, since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has enthroned. The young leader has been facing bad press for an alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to the reports, an ad hoc panel was appointed in order to meet the eight detained women in Saudi Arabia. The panel wanted to ensure the welfare of detainees. However, there was no response from the Saudi ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz.

Crispin Blunt, the former Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee, is one of the members of the cross-party panel. Blunt is a stalwart defender of the Gulf monarchies, the reason he was included in the panel. It was believed his gulf-alignment could lead to cooperation from Saudi Arabia, but it did not work.

The panel concluded that the female detainees were put through roughshod treatment, such as, sleep deprivation, sexual assault, threats to life and solitary imprisonment. The treatment given to them amounts to torture, and while they do not have access to the vital medical assistance, it is feared that the detainees might develop severe health conditions.

The detained female activists struggled for women’s right to drive – a demand which was granted by the Saudi government in 2018. However, the detained women were called as traitors by the official Saudi press. Since then, regular reports of mistreatment is heard in the media.

Crispin Blunt said, “The Saudi women activist detainees have been treated so badly as to sustain an international investigation for torture. Denied proper access to medical care, legal advice or visits from their families, their solitary confinement and mistreatment are severe enough to meet the international definition of torture.”

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