HRC37 Intervention on Shia discrimination and executions in Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday 20 March, during the Item 9 General Debate at the UN Human Rights Council, ADHRB’s Saudi Arabia Advocacy Associate delivered an oral intervention on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against its religious minorities, in particular its Shia population. The Associate also raised the issue that of the 45 men on death row for political crimes related to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and religion, all of them are members of the Shia community, which is not a coincidence. Click here for a PDF of the intervention.

Mr. President,

Alsalam and ADHRB remain concerned over some member states’ continued disrespect for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action’s call to protect individuals from discrimination.

For example, Saudi Arabia continues to discriminate against its Shia minority community by suppressing their fundamental freedoms in the name of countering terrorism and sentencing them to death on spurious charges for free expression, assembly, association, and religion-related crimes.

For example, the government executed prominent Shia cleric and outspoken peaceful social justice activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in the mass execution on 2 January 2016. Sheikh al-Nimr was sentenced to death on terror charges after calling for peaceful reforms and more freedom for Saudi Arabia’s downtrodden Shia population. Alongside Sheikh al-Nimr, authorities executed Mohammed Shioukh and Mohammed al-Suwamil, who had been arrested and sentenced to death for terror crimes after peacefully protesting.

More recently, on 11 July, authorities executed four Shia men they accused of terror crimes, but who were arrested for participating in peaceful protests. More broadly, there are currently at least 45 men on death row for such crimes, and uncoincidentally, all of them are Shia.

The DDPA directs states to counter discrimination and intolerance in all its forms. We call upon all states, including Saudi Arabia, to uphold their responsibility to the Declaration by providing protections for, and working to end discrimination against, religious and racial minorities.

Thank you,