Press Release: Saudi human rights commitment must be genuine


IHRC views with scepticism the decision made by Saudi Arabia yesterday to accept a majority of UN human rights recommendations.

Riyadh was handed 225 recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October 2013. In a meeting of the 25th session of the UNHRC in Geneva yesterday, Saudi Arabia fully accepted 145, partially accepted 36, gave no answer to six, and rejected 38.

However the Saudi “acceptances” consist mainly of vague promises to “consider” changes rather than concrete pledges to implement them. Given the kingdom’s record to date, This leads IHRC to believe it may simply be playing for time.

As an example, the kingdom said in 2009 that it would consider ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but yesterday rejected demands that it actually ratify the same treaty.

Among the accepted recommendations accepted an intent to prohibit torture and codify criminal law respectively. Saudi Arabia is notorious for detaining and physically abusing individuals, particularly political activists, without charge or trial.

A 2011 report by the IHRC found that up to 30,000 people were in jail for activities deemed critical or a threat to the ruling monarchy. Unless “intent” is translated into actual measures there is little prospect of this situation improving.

Saudi Arabia also failed to make any concrete commitment to end the systemic discrimination against women in the kingdom which includes prohibiting them from driving.

IHRC, which submitted an oral statement to the UNHRC last week (Click here to read full article) outlining human rights concerns in the kingdom, believes the Saudi regime must be judged by its actions, not unclear commitments with no timetables.

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