Dec 18, 2018

Report: Saudi Arabia investigating itself for allegedly torturing women

A Saudi woman behind the wheel of a car.

A Saudi woman drives in Riyadh for the first time. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Alleged torture of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia — which the Saudi government denies — is being investigated by the Saudi Human Rights Commission, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The activists, who campaigned for women to gain the right to drive, were arrested earlier this year while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman touted himself as a reformist of the kingdom's strict cultural laws. MBS has recently come under more scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers for his policies and behavior.

Details: Per the Journal, the commission has heard accusations of waterboarding, sexual harassment, electrocution, and more. A top aide of MBS, Saud al-Qahtani, "allegedly oversaw some aspects ... and threatened at least one woman with rape and death."

  • The WSJ reports that at least eight of the 18 activists in custody have been physically abused.
  • The Commission reports to Saudi King Salman.
  • Last week, the U.S. Senate issued a sharp rebuke of the Saudi kingdom and broke from the Trump administration in its support of the Saudis.

The bottom line: It's doubtful any real charges will come from this.

  • One Saudi official told the Journal: "I don't see how they will hold anyone accountable if they already publicly denied that the torture ever happened."
Go deeper