Reps. Frankel, Ros-Lehtinen Lead Letter Condemning Arrests of Women’s Rights Activists in Saudi Arabia

Aug 15, 2018

Reps. Frankel, Ros-Lehtinen Lead Letter Condemning Arrests of Women’s Rights Activists in Saudi Arabia

West Palm Beach, FL – Today, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and 12 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to call for the prompt release of at least a dozen women’s rights activists who have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by Saudi Arabia.

“These brave champions should not be targeted and punished for advocating for their rights and empowering women and girls,” said Rep. Frankel, Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The growing arrests are deeply concerning. I urge the State Department to press Saudi Arabian authorities to end this crackdown and immediately release the imprisoned human rights defenders.”

“I’m proud to join with my friend and colleague, Lois, in urging Secretary Pompeo to take a stronger stand in support of these brave women and all human rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. “These arrests contradict the Crown Prince’s stated acknowledgement of women’s equality and his desire to improve his country’s human rights record, and undermine the limited progress that has already been made. A more open and equal society that respects women’s rights is essential for Saudi Arabia’s long-term success as well as U.S. interests in the Middle East. The United States must press Saudi Arabia’s leaders to release these women and make human rights a priority in our bilateral relations.”

In part, the letter states:

“Yet since May 15, Saudi authorities have arrested multiple prominent women’s rights advocates and imposed travel bans on numerous others, many of them longtime supporters of ending the ban on women driving and abolishing the male guardianship system. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.”

“Promoting human rights and democracy has long been a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy, including advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls. As such, we urge you to press Saudi Arabia to release these activists, strongly affirm the United States’ commitment to gender equality and emphasize the need for Saudi Arabia to cease its ongoing repression of human rights defenders.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.