On 28 September, at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, ADHRB Advocacy Associate Tyler Pry delivered an oral intervention during the Item 10 General Debate. In his intervention, Pry highlighted the lack of progress Saudi Arabia has made in its judicial technical cooperation program with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a program intended to reform the kingdom’s “opaque and arbitrary” judicial system. Please continue reading for the full text of his intervention, or click here for a PDF of his remarks.

Mr. President,

ADHRB would like to call the Council’s attention to the concluding judicial technical cooperation program between OHCHR and Saudi. We urge Saudi Arabia to renew its cooperation with OHCHR and to expand the program to include participation and protection for civil society, and seek to include the participation of all sectors and regions of Saudi society, including representatives of Saudi’s Shia minority.

Saudi Arabia’s judicial system is notoriously opaque and arbitrary, without a codified penal law or institutional guides to sentencing. Within this system, hearings and trials rarely conform to international standards of due process or fair trials.

With a view toward bringing Saudi Arabia’s judiciary closer in line with international standards, OHCHR has run a technical cooperation program with the purpose of training a small number of Saudi judges and lawyers in international standards of due process and fair trials. At the conclusion of this program, Saudi Arabia’s judicial system continues to require significant reform.

We therefore call on Saudi Arabia to continue its efforts towards addressing the significant structural problems remaining in its judicial practices. We call on Saudi Arabia, as a Member State of the Human Rights Council, to publicly recommit to technical cooperation with OHCHR and to expand the reach of this program to include a greater number of judges and lawyers. We further call on Saudi Arabia to not only include a formal role for and protection of independent civil society in the programs, but also all sectors and regions of Saudi society.

Thank you.

Photo by Moosa Mohammed