Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has the opportunity to lead on human rights concerns by raising them with leaders at the G20 Summit under Saudi Arabia’s presidency, which will be held virtually.

Amnesty and the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have also written to the Saudi ambassador to Australia, Messaad Ibraham al-Sulaim, to call for the release of 5 women human rights defenders, presenting him with more than 40,000 signatures supporting their release.

Amnesty International Australia National Director Sam Klintworth said: “The arrest and ongoing detention of women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia for their beliefs and activism is a gross violation of human rights. With the world’s attention on Saudia Arabia in the lead-up to the G20 Leaders Summit, now is the time for the Saudi government to free these activists.”

The GIDHR’s Fatima Yazbek said: “We are seriously concerned regarding the physical and mental health of the detained female activists behind the Saudi bars. Those courageous women who fought bravely for the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens and paid an expensive bill rather than being honoured. “We urge the Saudi authorities to release those detained female activists, to ensure their rights, freedoms, well-being and safety are protected, and to protect the Saudi women who express their opinions and demand their rights online or through other forms of activism.”

Australia can also leverage its influence by advocating on human rights issues in countries in our region including G20 members, India and China, and guests, Viet Nam.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has an opportunity to put human rights on the same footing as economics by raising concerns on issues such as the case of Australian Vietnamese retiree Chau Van Kham who is in prison for 12 years in Viet Nam, the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the human rights abuses in the disputed territory Jammu and Kashmir,” Klintworth said.