UN Report Calls on Saudi Arabia to Release Two Women Imprisoned for Tweeting Alleging Rights Violations | UN Report Wagon Radio 720

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – UN human rights experts released two Saudi women on Friday after they were arbitrarily detained and denied basic rights after they tweeted criticism of Saudi policies asked for

Salma Al-Shehab was arrested in separate cases in 2021 and was sentenced to 34 years in prison last summer, while Noura bint Saeed Al-Qahtani was sentenced to 45 years. He was originally convicted by a special tribunal set up to try terrorists, but has expanded his mandate in recent years amid a tough crackdown on dissidents.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has come under intense scrutiny as the country makes major strides in international sports, attracting the world’s top soccer stars and embarking on a surprise merger with golf’s PGA Tour.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a working group of independent experts mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate possible violations, said in its report that two women had been denied due process. Stated.

The working group said it had “credible” allegations that Al-Shehab had been “treated cruelly, inhumanly or degradingly” while in quarantine for nearly two weeks after his arrest. The report said the specialized criminal court in which both women were convicted “cannot be considered an independent and impartial court” and that the government has applied vague and overly broad provisions in the anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws. said there is.

“The arrest, treatment and lengthy sentences of Al-Shehab and Al-Qahtani demonstrate that they were discriminated against for their human rights activism and for peacefully sharing their views on social media. Yes,’ said the paper.

“An appropriate remedy would be to release[them]immediately and give them enforceable rights to reparations and other reparations,” the Saudi media, culture and information ministries and foreign affairs ministries responded to requests for comment. not

The 17-page UN report included a response from the Saudi government, which said the allegations of rights violations were baseless and questioned the sources of the report, saying it failed to provide supporting evidence. He also argued that the judiciary was independent.

Ines Osman, director of the Geneva-based MENA Rights Group, said her group was one of five human rights groups that contributed to the report. She said that long sentences “are there to set an example.”

“This is sending the message that if you speak up, you’re going to do this. If you think you’re just using Twitter to share your thoughts, that’s not going to happen,” she said.

Rina Alhasrul, head of oversight at the London-based Saudi Arabia-focused human rights group ALQST, welcomed the UN’s role in publicizing the arrests. “The government will realize that whether they try to cover up violations or cover up arbitrary arrests, they will eventually find out,” she said.

Al-Hasrour’s sister, Rujain, is a prominent women’s rights activist who has led a campaign to lift the long-standing ban on women driving. Saudi Arabia lifted its driving ban in 2018, part of a series of social reforms that have transformed everyday life in the country. But that year, authorities also arrested Lujan and her other activists, sentenced her to three years in prison, and imposed her travel ban.

“No one can participate in change, no one can really criticize anything. is,” Al-Hatur said.

Saudi Arabia’s daily ruler and reformist, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has also orchestrated a severe crackdown on dissidents. US intelligence finds the crown prince likely authorized the 2018 killing of prominent Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, but he denies the allegations are doing.

The two women detained in 2021 were civilians who tweeted in their spare time.

Al Shehab, a mother of two and a researcher at the University of Leeds in the UK, was detained in January 2021 while on a family trip. Osman said she had been in solitary confinement for more than 285 days.

A specialized criminal court sentenced her to 34 years’ imprisonment and travel for the same period, accusing her of “providing a broad platform for terrorist messaging by spreading ‘false information’ that threatens national security and public order.” handed down a ban. Associated Press.

Al-Qahtani was arrested in July 2021 on charges of demanding the release of political detainees and criticizing human rights abuses on anonymous social media accounts. According to her court documents, the SCC sentenced her to 45 years in prison for “creating, transmitting and storing information through the Internet for the purpose of harming public order.”

Human rights groups say such trials are secretive and it is difficult to document the extent of the crackdown because people are afraid to speak out.

“These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Osman. “There are many other similar situations and incidents that we are unaware of.” UN Report Calls on Saudi Arabia to Release Two Women Imprisoned for Tweeting Alleging Rights Violations | UN Report Wagon Radio 720

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