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Wagner Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Urging Saudi Arabia to Release Detained Women’s Rights Activists

Feb 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO-02), the Vice Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), David Cicilline (D-RI-01), and Susan Wild (D-PA-07) in introducing a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia’s continued jailing and alleged abuse of women’s rights activists. The resolution urges Saudi officials to immediately release the prisoners and hold the perpetrators accountable, and calls on the U.S. government to sanction any Saudi officials responsible.

Since May 2018, the Government of Saudi Arabia has arrested prominent women’s rights advocates. It’s been reported that many of these prisoners have been subjected to abuse, including sexual violence, beatings, electric shocks, and sleep deprivation.

“Saudi Arabia’s egregious attacks on women and dissidents are unconscionable,” said Rep. Wagner. “I join my colleagues in calling for the release of the women’s rights advocates who have been imprisoned and allegedly subjected to violence simply for fighting for their fundamental human rights. These injustices must be immediately addressed and the perpetrators held accountable.”

“These brave champions should not be targeted and abused for advocating for their rights and empowering women and girls,” said Rep. Frankel. “Saudi officials must end this crackdown, immediately release the imprisoned human rights defenders, and hold those accountable who are responsible.”

“It’s critical that the United States stand up for victims of human rights abuses wherever they occur. Nowhere is this issue more pressing than the ongoing repression in Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Cicilline. “I am proud to be helping to lead this bipartisan resolution that says - in unequivocal terms - that Saudi Arabia must change its behavior or face consequences.” 

“Activists in Saudi Arabia advocating on behalf of girls and women are facing abhorrent treatment – from detention to alleged abuse and travel bans,” said Rep. Wild. “As a member of the foreign affairs committee, I am proud to advocate on behalf of human rights defenders putting their safety and comfort at risk to fight for fair treatment for women around the world.”

In part, the resolution states:

(1) reaffirms that promoting human rights and democracy has long been a bedrock of United States foreign policy, including advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls;

(2) condemns the Government of Saudi Arabia’s continued detention and alleged abuse of women’s rights advocates jailed for peacefully exercising their human rights;

(3) urges Government of Saudi Arabia officials to immediately and unconditionally release the imprisoned women’s rights advocates and other political prisoners, and hold accountable those involved in perpetrating abuses;

(4) urges Government of Saudi Arabia officials to end the male guardianship system that restricts the ability of Saudi women to make decisions about their lives; and

(5) calls on the United States Government to—

(A) continue publicly and privately demanding the release of individuals wrongfully detained;

(B) use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (subtitle F of title XII of Public Law 114–328) to identify and impose travel and financial restrictions on all Government of Saudi Arabia officials responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;

(C) document relevant details of alleged torture and abuse in future annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; and

(D) prioritize human rights, including women’s rights, as a key component of the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Full text of the resolution can be found here.