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Canada must speak out over jailed Saudi activists, Amnesty International says

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OTTAWA — Amnesty International says Canada must loudly and specifically speak out against Saudi Arabia for jailing women who have been fighting for rights in their country.

Canada was one of three dozen countries that jointly signed a United Nations Human Rights Council statement this week condemning Saudi Arabia for the arrests of 10 mainly female activists who have been jailed as part of a crackdown on rights advocates in the kingdom.

READ MORE: Canada among countries calling on Saudi Arabia to release 10 human rights activists

Canada did also speak out against Saudi Arabia for jailing female activists last summer — statements that led to economic and diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Amnesty International Canada’s gender-rights campaigner, Jacqueline Hansen, says Canada has been muted in its calls for action since then.

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She says if the Trudeau government is truly dedicated to an international feminist agenda, it must continue to call for these women to be released because their lives depend on it.

In the meantime, the human-rights organization hopes Canada will echo calls for Saudi Arabia to allow an independent investigation into reports the female prisoners have been tortured.