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Human Rights Council opens its 43rd session without Saudi Arabia as member

لقراءته بالعربية إضغط هنا

The UN Human Rights Council is holding its 43rd session in Geneva, from 24 February to 20 March 2020, without Saudi Arabia as a member for the first time in six years.

On 27 February, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, offered a verbal update on the status of human rights throughout the world. Likewise, the Council will consider special reports presented by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General concerning human rights issues. They are expected to discuss the issue of protecting both male and female human rights advocates, per the report issued by the UN General Assembly in 2019, focusing on implementing the declaration regarding human rights advocates and certain key elements of the protection policy.

During the Council’s last three sessions, Saudi violations occupied a large part of its discussions. In March 2019, 36 countries issued a statement calling for Saudi Arabia to release male and female human rights advocates. During its 41st session in June 2019, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnès Callamard, presented her report on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pointing to the culpability of the state and of Saudi officials. And in September 2019, 24 countriescondemned Saudi Arabia’s ongoing violations.

Despite the criticisms directed toward Saudi Arabia, the human rights situation continues to deteriorate. Saudi Arabia has not responded to calls for the release of male and female human rights advocates and continues to arbitrarily detain them.

Furthermore, the year 2019 recorded the highest level of implementation of the death penalty ever in the country, with children and activists among the victims. While the Council is expected to hold a panel discussion on mainstreaming human rights, entitled “Thirty Years of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Challenges and Opportunities,” Saudi Arabia, which ratified the Convention in 1997, continues to threaten the lives of at least 12 children.

ESOHR monitors the Council’s actions and resolutions along with the stances taken bycountries, and it hopes to continue and to increase international pressure on Saudi Arabia, especially since Saudi Arabia has disregarded all prior resolutions and positions and has increased the pace of violations.

ESOHR notes that it will participate, alongside other organizations, in a symposium on human rights in Saudi Arabia to be held on the sidelines of the HRC’s session, on 5 March 2020. The symposium will highlight the reality of human rights in the country, including death penalty issues.

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