Panel finds detained activists subject to sleep deprivation, assault and threats to life
'Saudi Arabia is detaining female activists in cruel and inhumane conditions that meet the threshold of torture under both international and Saudi law, a cross-party panel of three British MPs has found.
The conclusions indicate growing unease among western allies over alleged rights abuses under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, who is already facing opprobrium over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.
The ad hoc panel had sought access to eight jailed women to assess their welfare, but received no response from the Saudi ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz.
The panel includes Crispin Blunt, the former Conservative chair of the foreign affairs select committee and one of the staunchest defenders of the Gulf monarchies. It was thought his background might lead to cooperation from the kingdom, which protects its justice system from scrutiny.
The panel’s report concludes that the detainees – female activists arrested last spring – had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, including sleep deprivation, assault, threats to life and solitary confinement. Theeir treatment is likely to amount to torture and if they are not provided with urgent access to medical assistance they are at risk of developing long-term health conditions, the report says.
Culpability rests not only with direct perpetrators but also those who are responsible for or acquiesce to it, it says. “The Saudi authorities at the highest levels could, in principle, be responsible for the crime of torture.”'
Read more: Saudi female activists face jail conditions akin to torture, say UK MPs