Amnesty International Calls on President Obama to Bring a Female Secret Service Driver to Saudi Arabia

Press Release
March 25, 2014

Amnesty International Calls on President Obama to Bring a Female Secret Service Driver to Saudi Arabia

Organization, 50+ Members of Congress Call on President to Take Public Steps Supporting Human Rights

Contact: Natalie Butz, nbutz@aiusa.org, (202) 675-8761, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday, Amnesty International is calling on President Obama to take a stand for human rights by having a woman Secret Service driver during his visit and seeking a meeting with Saudi Arabian women activists who are defying the ban against women driving.

"President Obama will arrive in Saudi Arabia just one day before women take to the streets to defy the world's only ban on women drivers," said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East North Africa Advocacy Director. "President Obama should show his support by bringing a female Secret Service driver with him to the country. For too long, the U.S. government has put geopolitics ahead of human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia's repressive monarchy."

In a letter to the White House, the organization is urging the President to advocate for significant human rights reforms in his meetings with Saudi Arabian officials and take public steps to show U.S. support for human rights in the country.

A diverse bipartisan group of over 50 Members of Congress has signed a congressional letter to President Obama urging him to seek meetings with Saudi Arabian women activists defying the driving ban and family members of imprisoned peaceful human rights advocates. The congressional letter also calls for President Obama to advocate for significant human rights reforms in his direct meetings with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and other Saudi Arabian officials.

The government of Saudi Arabia is extraordinarily repressive. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women to drive a car, and Saudi Arabian women continue to face many other forms of severe discrimination in both law and practice. The government imposes severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Torture and other ill-treatment during detention and interrogation are common and carried out with impunity.

As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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