WASHINGTON , D.C. – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today sent the following letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking her to address human rights developments in Saudi Arabia and condemn the recent sentencing of a Saudi rape victim to six months in jail and 200 lashes. Obama also asked Rice to include this case in this year's report on human rights that is currently being prepared by the State Department.
Below is a copy of the letter:
November 19, 2007
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington , DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice:
I am writing to request your attention to a troubling human rights development in Saudi Arabia.
According to news accounts, last week a Saudi court sentenced a 19-year old woman, who was the victim of a gang rape, to six months in jail and to 200 lashes. Reportedly, this is more than a doubling of her initial sentence. The court took this step of doubling the sentence because the defendant’s lawyers raised the case in the press in an effort to call attention to it. That the victim was sentenced at all is unjust, but that the court doubled the sentence because of efforts to call attention to the ruling is beyond unjust.
I strongly urge the Department of State to condemn this ruling. Moreover, since your Department is finalizing this year’s country reports on human rights pursuant to Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), I ask that this unjust case and any efforts to correct this demeaning ruling be given a prominent place in that report.
I thank you in advance for your consideration of my request. Thank you.
United States Senator