PR GONE WRONG? At today's UN review of Saudi Arabia's human rights record, the fundamentalist Wahabi regime deliberately sent women to testify — but with their faces hidden. To share on Facebook, click here.
GENEVA, Oct. 21 - As the UN Human Rights Council scrutinized Saudi Arabia's domestic rights record this morning, a minority of democracies such as Canada, UK, and the Czech Republic raised concerns, while the vast majority of countries lined up to defend and praise one of the world's most repressive theocratic regimes.
TODAY'S UNHRC PRAISE FOR
SAUDI ARABIA'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
Turkey: "We commend Saudi Arabia for the significant rise of women in civil service”
Tunisia: "We commend Saudi Arabia for efforts to adapt its laws with international human rights conventions…"
Palestine: "We take notice of Saudi Arabia's efforts to protect and promote human rights..."
Somalia: "Saudi Arabia maintains a high priority for protection and promotion of human rights…"
Pakistan: Commended "laudable steps taken by Saudi Arabia to promote and protect the rights of children and women..."
Nicaragua: "We note Saudi Arabia's progress in rights of the child, trafficking of persons, and legislative change for women's rights..."
Mauritania, VP of the UNHRC (and a country that practices slavery): "We commend Saudi Arabia for always seeking to strengthen human rights…We commend Saudi Arabia in terms of the progress on guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, socioeconomic progress, participation of women at all levels and participation in society. We hope to see greater prosperity and progress for Saudi Arabia."
Maldives: "We commend Saudi Arabia's improvement on the situation of women."
Libya: "Saudi Arabia continues to strengthen human rights and promote them and this deserves our appreciation..."
Egypt: "We commend Saudi Arabia's progress to protect and promote human rights, and welcome work done to strengthen role of women..."
France: "We commend Saudi Arabia with its progress in the role of women in society..."
Denmark: "We commend SaudiArabia's progress in the promotion of rights for women in recent years…"
Cuba: "We commend Saudi Arabia for the implementation of recommendations made in the first cycle. Many areas of positive results: education, health..."
China: "We appreciate efforts made to protect the rights of children and to have dialogues of religious tolerance..."
Cambodia: "We take note of progress in human employment, education, and social security..."
Afghanistan: "We commend Saudia Arabia as they continue to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights..."
Vietnam: "Commend Saudi Arabia's efforts in combating human trafficking and discrimination; these are encouraging..."
Venezuela: "Enrollment in primary education has reached 96.6%. We congratulate Saudi Arabia..."
Out of the 102 countries taking the floor today, over 80 of them praised Saudi Arabia.
It was another meeting of what has sadly turned into a mutual praise society, with anti-democratic regimes like Communist China heaping praise on fundamentalist Saudi Arabia, in the knowledge that tomorrow morning, when China gets reviewed, the Saudis will return the favor.
Despite widespread recognition of Saudi Arabia's abysmal record on the rights of women, religious freedom, and political liberties, the country is poised to win a seat on the Human Rights Council in elections to be held on November 12th by the UN General Assembly.
UN Watch and a coalition of human rights groups are urging U.S. ambassador Samantha Power and EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton to take the lead in opposing the Saudi bid for a UNHRC seat, the height of hypocrisy. Over the coming weeks, UN Watch will be bringing famous dissidents inside the UN to mobilize opposition to the Saudi and other absurd candidacies.
After Saudi Arabia presented the HRC with a 30-page report its human rights record, the council today held a three-hour "interactive dialogue," with over 100 states making statements and Saudi delegates nominally responding. The exercise is known as the “universal periodic review” (UPR), which examines every UN member state once every four years. Tomorrow is China's turn.
Saudi Arabia is a country whose legal system routinely lashes women rape victims rather than punish the perpetrators; it should not have been praised effusively by members of the UN's top human rights body.
Instead, the world should have used the opportunity to address the Saudi regime's cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as flogging, amputations and eye-gouging. These and other abuses were amply documented in written submissions to the UN by Amnesty International and other NGOs.
No one challenged the Saudi regime on the 53 Christians who were arrested this year by religious police for the crime of praying in a private home, nor did anyone ask the Saudis why homosexuality is a crime punishable by public beheadings.
Saudi Arabian delegates to UN: "We have ratified five human rights instruments and are considering more, due to our commitment to human rights..."
UN Watch commends the small minority of countries who posed some kind of challenge to the Saudis.
Canada slammed Saudi Arabia's violations on child marriage, religious freedom, criminal justice, corporal punishment and the rights of women, calling for an end to the prohibition on women driving.
Ireland called for abolishing the male guardianship system. Germany spoke against child marriages. Britain criticized Saudi criminal law. The Czech Republic spoke for the freedoms of speech, expression, and association.
(Riyadh stunned the world on Friday by announcing it would reject the UN Security Council seat it just won -- the first time this has ever happened in history. Experts agreed this was a high-level Saudi rebuke to the Obama Administration over its perceived preference for Geneva talks instead of meaningfully confronting Syria and the nuclear program of its Shiite patron Iran. But with Secretary John Kerry's Paris meeting today with the Saudi foreign minister, the Sunni kingdom may yet change its mind. UN Watch will analyze this bizarre episode in our next briefing.)