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Legal Matters

EP: Bin Salman behind crackdown on activists, lawyers

Tehran, A resolution passed by the European Parliament recently blamed Saud Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for widespread crackdown on prominent activists, lawyers and human rights defenders, American online magazine Lobelog said.

Lobelog said in their resolution, the MEPs also made it clear that they were not impressed by Mohammad bin Salmans glitzy PR campaign:

whereas the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud has offered rhetorical support for women's rights reforms, especially during his tour in Europe and the United States, but such reforms have so far been limited, and the male guardianship system, the most serious impediment to women's rights, remains largely intact; whereas, moreover, he has overseen a widespread crackdown on prominent activists, lawyers and human rights defenders, which has intensified since he began consolidating control over the country's security institutions

Saudi Arabia has some of the tightest restrictions imposed on women, the Saudi political and social system remains undemocratic and discriminatory, makes women second-class citizens, allows no freedom of religion and belief, seriously discriminates against the country's large foreign workforce and severely represses all voices of dissent, they said.

The MEPs noted that they are further dismayed by the existence of the male guardianship system and the prevalence of gender-based violence in Saudi Arabia, among other problems.

In the operational part of the document, the MEPs note that the ongoing repression of human rights defenders, including women's rights defenders, undermines the credibility of the reform process in the country.

Given the gravity of the situation, they asked for the first time that EU member states push in the UN Human Rights Council for an appointment of a special rapporteur for Saudi Arabia, a dubious distinction reserved for countries deemed to have the worst human rights record . Also in a first, the EP demanded an introduction of targeted measures (euphemism for sanctions) against those responsible for human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The MEPs also criticized the countrys troubling role in the region.

These proposals, although spearheaded by the progressive bloc in the EP (roughly 48% of the seats), gained a surprisingly high degree of support across the political spectrum. The roll call vote reveal that a vast majority of members of the main center-right group�the European Peoples Party (EPP)�voted in favor of sanctions against Saudi Arabia. This must be especially shocking for the Saudis, since they count a number of influential friends in the EPP, the largest bloc in the chamber. Traditionally, the EPP was very reluctant to criticize Saudi Arabia. But this time, the final result shows overwhelming support for the motion: 525 in favor, 72 abstentions, and only 29 against.

Although this resolution is non-binding, the overwhelming majority support in the EP gives an ample political mandate to the EU governments and Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, to take concrete steps to rein in objectionable Saudi policies on human rights and in the region�by dialogue if possible or by sanctions if necessary. This is not about Saudi-bashing but about striving to uphold a principled position on human rights, devoid of geopolitical considerations. And it certainly confirms that the EU is not jumping on the anti-Iran bandwagon.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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