Amnesty International India has started a campaign to seek justice for the two Nepalese women who were allegedly sexual assaulted for months by a Saudi diplomat and others at his residence in Gurgaon.
The organisation has also sent a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding justice and reparation for the two women, who had been employed as domestic workers at the apartment of Majed Hassan Ashoor.
“Indian and Saudi Arabian authorities must work together to deliver justice and reparation for the two Nepalese women who were raped and assaulted repeatedly, allegedly by a Saudi Arabian diplomat and others,” the NGO said in a statement on Thursday.
The two women, aged 44 and 20, were rescued by the Haryana Police during a raid on Ashoor’s apartment on September 9. The women told the police that they had been forcibly confined, starved, repeatedly raped and assaulted by the diplomat and his “guests” over months.
However, the Saudi Arabian Embassy had denied the allegations and claimed that the police raid on the diplomat’s residence was a breach of diplomatic conventions. Amid an outcry over the issue and demands for his arrest, Ashoor had returned to Saudi Arabia on September 16.
Confirming the news of his return, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that the diplomat was protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The Haryana Police have registered a criminal case against six unnamed persons but are yet to file charges.
Amnesty International India Thursday demanded a prompt investigation into the allegations and said that if needed, Ashoor should be extradited by Saudi Arabia.
“Diplomatic immunity must not lead to impunity for human rights abuses,” said Gopika Bashi, women’s rights campaigner with the NGO.
“Authorities in India must promptly investigate the allegations, charge those suspected and seek their extradition from Saudi Arabia for prosecution, if required. The Saudi Arabian government, on its part, must not use the shield of diplomatic immunity to protect anyone, and must extradite suspects to India, if the need arises,” she said.
Both survivors, who left for Nepal soon after their rescue, are now staying in a shelter home in Kathmandu and receiving psychological counselling.
Recalling the ordeal they went through, one of them said, “The sooner I get justice, the better. Three countries are involved in this. We have faced so many problems and we struggled a lot… we need justice. Arrest whoever was involved. It was like a nightmare for us. The only thing I want is justice and for them to be put in jail.”
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which India and Saudi Arabia are state parties, grants diplomats immunity from criminal prosecution by a receiving state.
Diplomatic immunity is meant to enable diplomats to carry out their work without fearing intimidation or harassment by the receiving state. However, the treaty also states that diplomats enjoying immunities have a duty to respect the laws of the receiving state.