Vienna, 17 December 2007 Press release

Plassnik on pardon in Saudi Arabia: "Clear decision in favour of humanity"


Active engagement for human rights is of avail

Vienna, 17 December 2007 - "I am very relieved about the pardon by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. This is a clear decision in favour of humanity," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the pardon of the young Saudi woman who turned defendant herself after having been repeatedly raped. She had been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison because she was in the company of a man to whom she was not related - a criminal offence under Saudi law. "The lifting of this cruel sentence is an important and encouraging signal for women in the entire region."

Several states, including the EU and Austria, had supported a suspension of the sentence. In a public statement on 28 November, Foreign Minister Plassnik had urged the Saudi Government to review and lift the sentence. "Active engagement for human rights and women’s rights is of avail in every single case. The basic international obligations apply universally. Human and civil rights are neither ‘male’ nor ‘female’. There must be no compromises or distinctions," stressed Plassnik.

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