'A group of British MPs and lawyers is calling for access to women’s rights activists detained in Saudi Arabia, following allegations that they have been subjected to torture and sexual assault in prison.
More than a dozen were imprisoned in a crackdown by authorities in May last year, just ahead of the country’s ban on women driving being lifted. Many of them were prominent in the campaign to remove the ban.
Some were later released without charge, but at least eight women and a number of male supporters of the movement remain in custody. Human rights groups have said at least three of the women have suffered torture and sexual assault in Dhahban Prison, where they are being held, and all have been denied access to lawyers.
A cross-party panel of British MPs released an open letter on Wednesday addressed to the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz, requesting permission to visit the detained activists to check on their condition.
“There are credible concerns that the conditions in which the Saudi women activists are being detained may have fallen significantly short of both international and Saudi Arabia’s own standards,” wrote Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who chairs the panel.
“No person should be subjected to the type of treatment that has allegedly been inflicted upon these women activists while in detention. The implications of activists being detained and tortured for exercising their freedom of speech and conducting peaceful campaigns is concerning for all individuals seeking to exercise their human rights in Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in an open letter.
Mr Blunt, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Saudi Arabia, is joined on the panel by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, and Dr Paul Williams from Labour.'
Read more: Saudi Arabia: British MPs call for access to detained women activists ‘tortured and sexually assaulted’ in Saudi prisons
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