On Friday Human Rights Watch advised Saudi Arabia to allow independent observers access to detained women’s rights activists, saying Riyadh’s reassurances of their well-being could not be trusted following the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The kingdom last month deprived of as “false” and “unfounded” reports published by HRW and Amnesty International that three women activists had been tortured and sexually harassed in custody.
“Saudi Arabia‘s consistent lies about high-ranking officials’ role in Jamal Khashoggi’s killing mean that the government’s rejections that it tortured these women activists are not nearly good enough,” said HRW’s deputy Middle East director, Michael Page.
A dissident columnist Khashoggi who lived in self-imposed exile in the United States, was murdered inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in early October.
His assassination has put mounting pressure on Riyadh and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who Turkish officials and reportedly the CIA have settled gave the orders.
The New Yorkbased watchdog said it established a new report on 28th November from an “informed source” indicating that Saudi authorities had tortured and sexually harassed a fourth woman activist.
Sources told HRW the torture of Saudi women activists “may be ongoing”.
“Except independent monitors are able to confirm the women activists’ well-being, there is every reason to believe that the Saudi authorities have treated them with unspeakable cruelty,” the Page said.
More than a dozen activists were detained in May just before the historic lifting of a decade long ban on women drivers the following month.
Interest in the rights campaigners heightened after Canada called for their “immediate release”, sparking a diplomatic row that saw Riyadh expel the Canadian envoy in early August and enforce a raft of other permissions.