Ahead of Saudi Arabia’s 3rd-cycle UPR, ADHRB at HRC39 calls attention to the kingdom’s refusal to reform

On Monday 24 September, at the 39th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) delivered an oral intervention ahead of Saudi Arabia’s 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Reivew, and under the auspices of the Item 6 General Debate. The intervention drew attention to Saudi Arabia’s ongoing and widespread human rights violations, and its refusal to reform, although it pledged to implement dozens of recommendations that would grant Saudi citizens great social, political, and economic freedoms. Continue reading for the text of the intervention, or click here for a PDF of the intervention.

Mr. President,

Alsalam and ADHRB would like to call your attention to Saudi Arabia’s upcoming 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Review taking place in November, and to highlight Saudi Arabia’s refusal to reform since its 2nd cycle UPR five years ago in October 2013.

Five years ago, Saudi Arabia received 225 discrete recommendations that if implemented would significantly reform the kingdom’s human rights record. The kingdom accepted 187 of them. The recommendations spanned thematic issue areas including capital punishment, children’s rights, women’s rights, migrant rights, labor, political and social rights, reforming the judicial system, acceding to international treaties, combatting discrimination, disseminating a human rights culture, combatting trafficking in persons, and combatting terrorism.

Five years later, it is certain that Saudi Arabia has failed to follow through on its promises to implement the recommendations. Instead, it has backtracked, notably in capital punishment, with the number of executions the highest in decades in 2016 and 2017. In human rights and counter-terrorism, the government has promulgated two repressive counter-terror laws before using them to embarked on a systematic campaign to arrest dissidents, including Samar Badawi, Loujain al-Hathloul, Mohammed al-Otaibi, Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, Salman al-Awda, Saleh al-Shehi, Wajdi al-Ghazzawi, Naseema Alsada, Essam Koshak, and more.

It is clear that five years after Saudi Arabia committed to reforming its human rights record, the kingdom has refused to do so. We call upon all states to take Saudi Arabia’s 3rd cycle UPR as an opportunity to press for much-needed reforms.

Thank you