Biden Administration Must Insist on Tangible Human Rights Progress Amid Renewed Relationships

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As an organization dedicated to the freedom of political prisoners in the Middle East and North Africa, the Freedom Initiative expresses its deep disappointment over President Biden’s visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the bilateral meetings that took place between the President and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi. 

Our organization, along with many others, expressed concern over Biden’s participation in the summit on the grounds that, without preconditions, it would embolden authoritarian rulers. We hoped that the President and his administration would use the opportunity to insist on tangible steps to show human rights progress—chiefly among them significant releases of political prisoners—before and during the summit. 

We are deeply disappointed that the meetings that took place during the summit did not result in meaningful discussion on these issues. We also recognize that renewed relationships should lead to more opportunities to insist on human rights progress—and higher expectations for what that progress should deliver.   

Thus, we reiterate our calls for the Biden administration to insist on the release of political prisoners in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the lifting of unlawful travel bans and asset freezes in these countries, and the cessation of their efforts to repress and restrict rights and freedoms transnationally. 

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