Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo met with , the sister of the Saudi human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul. She was detained in May 2018 because of her activism for women rights in Saudi Arabia. It is thanks to women such as Loujain that women are entitled to drive today in Saudi Arabia. She pays however a hefty price for her activism and risks a prison sentence.
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Loujain al-Hathloul is one of #SaudiArabia's most prominent gender equality activists. She received worldwide attention in 2014 when she drove across the Saudi border to protest the driving ban against women. The driving ban was lifted early this year thanks to Loujain & other activists. But soon after, Saudi authorities arrested her at her home. Loujain has now been in prison for 7 months. The government launched a smear campaign against her, calling her a 'traitor' & 'enemy of the state'. @amnesty reported she & other activists are being tortured & sexually harassed. At #OYW2018, the Founders called for global support to set Loujain & the other activists free. Join us in our campaign to #FreeLoujain
Belgium reiterates its concerns about the situation of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Minister De Croo and the Belgian government are particularly concerned about the use of the counter-terrorism law and other national security provisions against individuals exercising peacefully their rights and freedoms. Human rights defenders and civil society groups play a vital role in every sustainable and stable society.
Belgium recalls its recommendation made during the Universal Periodic Review of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which it accepted, to “release anyone imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, including human rights defenders and journalists.”