Pressure against Saudi Arabia is mounting as lawmakers highlight the cases of female rights activists who have been jailed and tortured in Saudi prisons.

Saudi students looking for jobs head to the Glowork Women's Career Fair, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 2, 2018.
Saudi students looking for jobs head to the Glowork Women's Career Fair, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 2, 2018. (Reuters Archive)

The European Parliament and the US House of Representatives voted today to put forward two separate draft resolutions, condemning Saudi Arabia for the continuous detention of Saudi activists who are reportedly facing systematic torture. 

The bill strongly condemns the detention of women human rights activists, calling for their immediate release. 

Multiple reports show that the women activists in Saudi prisons are subjected to psychological and physical abuse, which includes violent beatings and electric shocks. 

The bill, in contrary to the kingdom’s so-called ‘liberalisation’ plan, highlights the cases of prominent activists, including internationally recognised Samar Badawi, who was arrested in August 2018.  

Badawi was granted the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 for her work to challenge Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory male guardianship system. 

According to the system, every Saudi woman is assigned a male relative — often a father or a husband or even a son — whose approval is required for them to marry, obtain a passport and travel. 

Rights groups say the arrangement turns women into second-class citizens, depriving them of social and economic freedoms and making them more vulnerable to violence.

In this March 22, 2018 file photo, an honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, in Washington DC.
In this March 22, 2018 file photo, an honor guard member is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, in Washington DC. (AP)

A group of US lawmakers issued a resolution last Wednesday to demand Saudi Arabia “immediately and unconditionally” release the activists. 

There is further legislation already pending in the US House of Representatives, which aims to cut US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Saudi Arabia has been in a stalemate due to the rising global voice against its human rights record since the Khashoggi killing surfaced. It followed the kingdom's harsh crackdown on clerics, businessman, royal family members and political dissidents. 

Turkey, the CIA and US Senate have all finalised their investigation into the killing, concluding that MBS has links to the journalist’s death. 

The mounting pressure recently strained the relations between the European Union and Saudi Arabia. 

The European Commission, this week, added Saudi Arabia to a “blacklist of nations” which are seen as posing a threat to the bloc due to their lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies