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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation on women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia

29.5.2018 - (2018/2712(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Elena Valenciano, Victor Boştinaru, Soraya Post, Pier Antonio Panzeri on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0259/2018

Procedūra : 2018/2712(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation on women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia


The European Parliament,

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, notably the one on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa of March 2014, the one on the case of Raif Badawi of February 2015 and the one on the case of Ali Mohmmed al-Nimr of October 2015;


- having regard to the impact on human rights, both at domestic and regional level, of the sanctions put in place by Saudi Arabia and other countries against Qatar and the report “on the impact of the Gulf Crisis on human rights” published by OHCHR in December 2017;


- having regard to Saudi Arabia’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council and of the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as its future membership of the Executive Council of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, starting in January 2019,


- having regard to the CEDAW Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Saudi Arabia from 9th March 2018;


- having regard to the 69th Session – Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Joint submission on Saudi Arabia on behalf of ALQST, GCHR and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDHR) on 7 March 2018;


- having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),


- having regard to the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights,


- having regard to the International Declaration of Human Rights,


- having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,


- having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,



A. Whereas Saudi Arabia ranks among the world’s most discriminatory and retrograde countries in terms of rights of women and girls and has some of the tightest restrictions imposed on women; whereas the Saudi political and social system remains profoundly undemocratic, makes women and Shia Muslims second-class citizens, allows no freedom of religion and belief, seriously discriminates against the country’s large foreign workforce and severely represses all voices of dissent;



B. Whereas since the 15th May 2018 Saudi authorities have arrested eight women: Loujain al-Hathloul, Aisha al- Mana, Madeha al-Ajroush, Iman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Youssef, Hessah al-Sheikh, Walaa al-Shubbar and Ibrahim Fahad Al-Nafjan, and four men, including Ibrahim al-Modeimigh, Mohammad al-Rabae and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal, for their women´s rights activism, under fabricated charges of “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and “undermining security and stability of the state”; whereas these activists are known for their campaign against the ban on women driving and advocacy for the abolishment of the male guardianship system, and have been arrested ahead of the anticipated lifting of a ban on women driving on June 24;



C. Whereas the case of Loujain al-Hathloul is particularly alarming, as she was transferred from Abu Dhabi to Saudi Arabia against her will in March 2018 after attending a review session of Saudi Arabia at the UN CEDAW; whereas she was placed under travel ban until her recent arrest and is currently the only activist held in incommunicado as of 20 May 2018;


D. Whereas the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has offered rhetorical support for women’s rights reforms, especially during his tour in Europe and the United States, but
such reforms have so far been limited at best, and the male guardianship system, the most serious impediment to women’s rights, remains largely intact; whereas, moreover, he has overseen a widespread crackdown on prominent activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders, which has intensified since he began consolidating control over the country’s security institutions;

E. Whereas Saudi Arabia has a range of discriminatory laws, in particular the legal provisions relating to personal status, the Civil Status Code, the Labour Code, the Nationality Act and the system of male guardianship, which subjects women’s enjoyment of most of their rights under the Convention to authorization by a male guardian;


F. Whereas Saudi Arabia ranked 138 out of 144 countries in the “The Global Gender Gap Report” published by the World Economic Forum;


G. Whereas, despite promises of reform, the overall situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia is characterized by a persistent pattern of repression, discrimination and curtailment of rights; whereas Sakharov Prize Laureate Raif Badawi is still in jail solely for peacefully expressing his views;



1. Condemns the ongoing repression of human rights defenders, including women rights defenders, in Saudi Arabia and calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience detained and sentenced for merely expressing their right to freedom of expression;



2. Calls on the Saudi authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Eman al-Nafjan, Ms. Aziza al-Youssef, Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul, Ms. Aisha al-Mana, Ms. Madiha al-Ajroush, Ms. Hessah Al-Sheikh, Ms. Walaa Al-Shubbar, Mr. Mohammed al-Rabiah, and Mr. Ibrahim al-Mudaimeegh and all human rights defenders in the country so they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance and fear of reprisal;



3. Emphasises that all detainees’ treatment, including human rights defenders, while in detention, must adhere to the conditions set out in the 'Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;




4. Calls on the HR/VP, European External Action Service and Member States to ensure full implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, and expand their protection and support for human rights defenders, particularly women human rights defenders;



5. Calls on the EU to table a resolution on the situation of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council; calls on the EU to take an initiative at the next Human Rights Council and at the Commission on the Status of Women which would raise the issue of membership by States with questionable human rights records, including respect for women´s rights and gender equality;



6. Calls on the EU to propose in the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur on human rights in Saudi Arabia;



7. Is deeply concerned about the prevalence of gender-based violence in Saudi Arabia, which remains largely underreported and undocumented and justified with reasons such as the need to discipline women under men´s guardianship; urges Saudi authorities to adopt comprehensive legislation to specifically define and criminalise all forms of gender-based violence against women, in particular rape, including marital rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, and to remove all obstacles women face in their access to justice;



8. Is dismayed by the existence of the male guardianship system, by which authorization from a male guardian is still expected in a number of areas, including travelling internationally, accessing health care services, choosing residency, marriage, filing complaints in the justice system, leaving state-run shelters for abused women, and for leaving detention centers; underlines that this system is a reflection of the deeply-rooted patriarchal system that rules the country;



9. Calls on the Saudi authorities to revise the Law on Associations and Foundations of December 2015 in order to allow women activists to organise themselves and to work freely and independently without undue interference by the authorities; urges as well the revision of the Anti-Terrorist law, the Anti-Cybercrime Law and the Press and Publications Law, which are repeatedly used to prosecute human rights defenders, as well as of all discriminatory provisions present in the legal system;



10. Calls on the Saudi authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to lift the reservations made to CEDAW and to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW in order to enjoy Saudi women to fully enjoy the rights enshrined in the Convention; to end child marriages, forced marriages and the compulsory dress code for women and make progress towards eliminating patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminate against women,



11. Calls on the European Union to include discussion on human rights, particularly the situation of women human rights defenders, as a permanent item on the agenda of the annual summit between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as other bilateral and multilateral fora; calls on the Council to consider the introduction of targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for grave human rights violations;


12. Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to support in an active manner civil society groups and individuals defending human rights in Saudi Arabia, including through arranging prison visits, trial monitoring and public statements;



13. Calls on Saudi authorities to release immediately and unconditionally Raif Badawi, his lawyer and all human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience detained and sentenced for merely exercising their right to freedom of opinion;



14. Calls on Saudi authorities to end incitement to hatred or discrimination against religious minorities, including the kingdom’s Shia minority and to all other individuals and groups subjected to violations of their human rights by Saudi Arabia, both inside and outside the country, in particular in Yemen and Qatar;


15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Human Rights Council, H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Secretary-General of the Centre for National Dialogue of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Pēdējā atjaunošana: 2018. gada 30. maijs
Juridisks paziņojums - Privātuma politika