U.N. experts call for release of Saudi women's rights activist
GENEVA (Reuters) - Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul appeared before a special terrorism court in Riyadh on Thursday, her family said, on charges U.N. human rights experts called 'spurious' and they called for her immediate release. Hathloul has been held since 2018 after being arrested along with at least a dozen other women's rights activists
GENEVA (Reuters) - Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul appeared before a special terrorism court in Riyadh on Thursday, her family said, on charges U.N. human rights experts called "spurious" and they called for her immediate release.
Hathloul has been held since 2018 after being arrested along with at least a dozen other women's rights activists.
Saudi officials have said the arrests were made on suspicion of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.
"We are extremely alarmed to hear that Ms Al-Hathloul, who has been in detention for more than two years on spurious charges, is now being tried by a Specialized Terrorism Court," said Elizabeth Broderick, chair of the U.N. working group on discrimination against women and girls, in a statement.
Hathloul was being tried "for exercising her fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association," she added.
"We call once again on Saudi Arabia to immediately release Ms. Al-Hathloul, a woman human rights defender who has greatly contributed to advancing women's rights in a country where gender discrimination and stereotyping are deeply entrenched in the fabric of society," she said.
Hathloul, now 31, had testified before the same U.N. watchdog panel in 2018. After reviewing the kingdom's record, the panel called on it to end discriminatory practices against women including its pervasive system of male guardianship and to give them full access to justice.
Independent U.N. investigators on torture, human rights defenders, protecting human rights while countering terrorism, and freedom of assembly also co-signed Thursday's statement.
Rights groups say some of the women, including Hathloul, were held in solitary confinement for months and subjected to abuse including electric shocks, flogging and sexual assault.
Saudi officials have denied torture allegations.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, additional reporting by Raya Jalabi in Beirut; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.