BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has called on Saudi Arabia to clarify the arrests and charges of human rights defenders and to declare that prisoners should be given a fair process of self-defense.
FILE PHOTO: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini arrives on the second day of a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 1
Saudi Arabia In recent months, several women's rights activists have been detained, some of whom have campaigned for the right to a car and an end to the Kingdom's male tutelage system.
The arrests sparked a major diplomatic dispute with Canada after Canadians demanded the immediate release of detained activists.
The European Commission, the EU executive, said it had contacted Saudi Arabia.
"The EU has worked constructively with the Saudi authorities to clarify the circumstances of the arrests of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, in particular with regard to the allegations against them," said EU foreign policy spokeswoman Federica Mogherini.
"We stressed the importance of the role of human rights defenders and civil society groups in the reform process that the Kingdom is pursuing, as well as the importance of respecting the rules of due process for all detainees," she said.
Early Saturday night, Mogherini spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on the phone, with both sides agreeing to step up their cooperation on human rights and other issues.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Edited by Andrew Bolton