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Saudi Arabia: UN member states must end deafening silence on the cruelty in the kingdom

    November 02, 2018

    The credibility of 193 UN member states will be on the line when the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record takes place in Geneva on Monday, Amnesty International said. 

    “UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns.

    “The Saudi government’s long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been wilfully ignored by UN member states.

    “The gruesome death of Jamal Khashoggi has shown how far the Saudi Arabian authorities will go in their repression of peaceful dissent, a crackdown which has only intensified since Mohammad bin Salman became Crown Prince.”

    Saudi Arabia has consistently failed to address its appalling human rights record and implement key recommendations it committed to act upon during its previous review before the UN Human Rights Council in 2014.

    In its July 2018 report Reform without human rights, Amnesty International documented a catalogue of human rights violations taking place in Saudi Arabia.

    These included the systematic repression of freedom of expression, a crackdown on human rights defenders, a surge in executions, discrimination against women and the Shi’a minority and the kingdom’s role in serious violations against civilians in the devastating armed conflict in Yemen.

    “Scrutiny and strong action from UN member states are more crucial than ever. The international community has a duty to hold the Saudi Arabian government to account for its relentless repression of human rights in the country and its violations in the Yemen conflict. States with considerable influence on Saudi Arabia must do everything in their power to prevent further violations and urge Saudi Arabia to make genuine human rights reforms, including the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and the abolishment of the male guardianship system” said Samah Hadid.

    “All arms-supplying states must suspend their arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition members, given the clear evidence documented by Amnesty International that they could be used to commit serious violations, including possible war crimes, in Yemen.”

    Background

    Since its last review in 2014, Saudi Arabia has failed to implement many of the recommendations it had accepted in the previous review, including to repeal the guardianship system against women; criminalize femicide and comply with Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women General Recommendation 19; adopt and enact legislation to guarantee the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and enable NGOs to operate without fear of reprisals; end discrimination against women and minority groups; guarantee due process and fair trials; prohibit in law the use of torture and other ill-treatment in line with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and protect workers, including migrant workers, from all forms of abuse.

    While Saudi Arabia has not responded favourably to all requests from the UN Special Procedures to visit the country, Saudi Arabia did agree to a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in 2015, however it has yet to facilitate the visit by the Special Rapporteur. Amnesty International welcomes the visits by the former Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights to Saudi Arabia in 2017 and November 2016, in line with accepted recommendations

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