UN calls for release of Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul

UN calls for release of Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul

The United Nations Women’s Rights Committee on Thursday called for the release of the Saudi activist defending women’s rights, Lujain Al-Hathloul, noting that the activist had started a hunger strike.

In its statement, the committee said that the activist faces charges based in part on her association with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva.

Al-Hathloul’s trial was supposed to begin in March, but it was postponed several times, and she was denied regular contact with her family, according to committee members.

“We, the committee’s experts, are extremely concerned about the physical and mental health of Mrs. Al-Hathloul, especially in light of her hunger strike,” the committee members said.

The UN body appealed to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to use his royal powers to release Al-Hathloul.

Al-Hathloul was arrested in May 2018, along with about 12 other women’s rights activists. Most of them were fighting for the right to drive – which was granted in June 2018 – and the end of the kingdom’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative to make important decisions.