Human rights

Silence over detained Saudi women's rights campaigner

"We're... trying to advocate for her release and that's the price we're paying"
The Saudi women’s activist, Loujain Al-Hathloul, was one of the most prominent campaigners for women's right to drive in the kingdom. But in May 2018, just before that driving ban was lifted, she was arrested and has been detained ever since.  Her family say she has been tortured and there have been calls from around the globe for her release - including from senior politicians in the US and  the UK. 

She was previously allowed to talk to her family by phone once a week, but for the past six weeks there's been nothing and her on-and-off trial has been delayed again.

Her brother, Waleed al-Hathloul, says he believes the authorities are trying to punish the family for their vocal criticism of her treatment:

"We're speaking out and trying to advocate for her release and that's the price we're paying"

(Photo: AFP Photo/ Twitter account of Loujain Al-Hathloul)

US warns Sahel nations over extrajudicial killings

A Burkina Faso soldier patrols at district welcoming Internally Displaced People (IDP) from northern Burkina Faso in Dori
There have been reports of human rights violations

The US has warned West Africa's Sahel nations that it could withdraw its support if security forces violate human rights.

The state department said it was "deeply concerned" by the allegations documented by rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW said that at least 180 bodies were found in a mass grave in Burkina Faso with evidence suggesting that government forces were involved in extrajudicial killings.

The state department also cited reports by the UN mission in Malawi.

"The United States has made clear that our assistance to the region must not be used in any way that contributes to violations or abuses of human rights and that without prompt and thorough action to address these allegations, US security assistance may be at risk," US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

The statement urged presidents in the G5 Sahel - representing Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - to investigate the allegations and hold "anyone found guilty of human rights violations or abuses" accountable.