This article is written from a democratic point of view.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is leading the charge for a Senate resolution that would condemn the ongoing detention of Saudi women’s rights activists arrested after May 2018, and calls for their immediate release. The Rubio-Cardin resolution also calls on President Trump to comply with the congressional request under the Global Magnitsky Act to officially determine the persons responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi.
Human rights abuses in the Saudi kingdom reportedly have been on the rise since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power.
The Rubio-Cardin resolution would:
- call the Saudi regime to immediately release and drop any politically motivated charges against the detained Saudi women’s rights activists related to peaceful activities to advance human rights in Saudi Arabia, which are protected under international law;
- express concern over the reported use of torture by the Saudi regime against the women’s activists, and urges investigation into such allegations and the holding accountable of perpetrators;
- recognize that the strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia is in the national interest of the United States;
- reaffirm that the global recognition and protection of basic human rights, including women’s rights, is in the national security interest of the United States;
- urge the Saudi regime to reform its laws that restrict basic human rights, including women’s rights, such as by abolishing the male guardianship system;
- urge Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to affirm the support of the United States for the right of activists to peacefully advocate for the protection of universal human rights;
- call on Trump to press the Saudi regime to immediately release all political prisoners, human rights defenders, journalists, and bloggers, including Raif Badawi, Waleed Abu al-Khair, and others who support religious freedom, and the women’s rights activists detained after May 2018; and
- call on Trump to comply with the request submitted under the appropriate subsection of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for a determination with respect to the persons responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi-born, but a legal US resident, Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi embassy in Turkey, where–once inside–he was ambushed and brutally murdered, likely on direct orders from MBS.
The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 US law, originally passed to punish via sanctions those in Russia responsible for the murder in prison of tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky.
Several years later, the law was expanded and internationalized so as to allow the targeted sanctioning of human rights abuses worldwide.
Lawmakers, for months, have been trying to push Trump to act under the authority of the Magnitsky Act against those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, including MBS. However, Trump has refused to acknowledge the evidence.
Although he is not associated with the Rubio-Cardin resolution, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also is calling for Trump’s action under the Magnitsky Act against those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.
“The question that Congress wants answered is whether any senior Saudi officials, including members of the Saudi royal family, were responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Romney says. “By law, the president is required to report to Congress on these findings and the imposition of sanctions. I am concerned that the Administration has yet to comply with the law, nor has it sufficiently explained why. As has been requested by members of both parties, I urge the Administration to rectify this urgent situation and brief Congress on its progress as soon as possible.”