Chairwoman Hautala met on 17th March Mr Abdallah Y. Al Mouallimi, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to discuss human rights in the country. [:]
Mr Mouallimi expressed the wish of his delegation to cooperate closely with the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights and underlined that they remain open to discuss with the members all issues they might wish, no matter what differences there may be. Ambassador informed Ms Hautala of the extensive reforms King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has started and of their achievements. Most notably, His Excellency noted, the number of women in working life is on the increase. Chairwoman expressed her contentment over this development but stressed that such advancement by no means is sufficient in terms of achieving true gender equality. She stressed that she would like to see the role of women to be increased especially in the political life of Saudi Arabia.
Chairwoman also stated that she remains convinced over the importance of the UN Human Rights Council and hopes that Saudi Arabia could support the strengthening of its effective functioning and especially the role of Special Procedures.
Chairwoman also expressed grave concerns over the case of a student human rights activist, Thamer Abdulkareem al-Kather, who has was detained incommunicado on 3rd March and who might be at severe risk of torture. He was apparently arrested by agents of the internal security agency, the General Intelligence, in the province of Qassim, north of the capital, Riyadh and is being held at the General Intelligence Prison in Riyadh. According to Amnesty International he appears to have been arrested for his peaceful activities in calling for constitutional reform. Ambassador assured Ms Hautala that he will look into this issue and inform her of the situation of Mr al-Kather.