July 31, 2018 / 9:30 AM / 4 months ago

Dissent still not accepted in Saudi, U.N. says, calls for activists' release

GENEVA, July 31 (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights office called on Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to release all peaceful activists, including women held for campaigning to lift a long-time ban on driving.

They included prominent women’s rights advocate Hatoon al-Fassi, arrested in June as she was planning to take journalists in her car to celebrate the much-hyped end of the world’s last ban on female drivers, long seen as an emblem of repression in the deeply conservative Muslim country.

Genuine reforms appear to be taking place in the kingdom, “but this has not extended to the civil and political rights sphere” and dissent was still not accepted, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a Geneva news briefing.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by John Stonestreet

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