The headquarters of the Human Rights Council holding its 31th Session in Geneva, were full of remarkable activities of many international and Saudi human rights organizations to highlight the gross violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia, whether in terms of the freedom of expression, women’s rights or the mass executions which target the activists or political opponents.
In the light of the unprecedented deterioration which the areas of human rights witnessed during the past two years in Saudi Arabia, these human right organizations found it convenient to submit their recommendations and their most significant documentations regarding the violations, during the ongoing Interactive Dialogue with the two Special Rapporteurs in the Council as well as in the side events in parallel with the main sessions.
The most important claims were the call of each the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Saudi European Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) to suspend the membership of Saudi Arabia in the Human Rights Council, especially following the increasing number of executions of activists and opponents, particularly the execution of minors in Saudi Arabia in what appears to be a prelude to execution. This came in the oral intervention delivered by Ali Aldubaisi on behalf of the two above-mentioned organizations during the Interactive Dialogue with the two Special Rapporteurs. He added that the executions campaign which took place in early January amidst unfair trials continue to escalate, pointing out that 55 prisoners risk being executed, including 12 minors.
Moreover, the human rights Bahraini activists, Mariam al-Khawaja, the co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) criticized the Saudi Arabia to hold a seat in the Human Rights Council. In an event organized by the GCHR on the process of the session, al-Khawaja called for the necessity to take into consideration the criteria that qualify the countries to hold seats in the Human Rights Council, otherwise, the Council would be empty, referring to the international human rights organizations’ reports which focus on targeting human rights defenders by accusing them of jeopardizing the national security and disobeying the rulers. At the end of the event, al-Khawaja indicated that those decisions are worthless, unless the human rights defenders are being protected and the members of the Council are held accountable.
A side event on the use of executions titled “The Arbitrary Destruction of Life in Saudi Arabia”, was held and organized by the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and sponsored by a number of human rights organizations such as the Saudi Organization for Rights and Freedom (SAORF), and Advocating for Human Rights (ALQST). The International Union for Human Rights, the Saudi European Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), Reprieve, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) also presented in the event. The organizers focused on the mass execution campaign that took place in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, particularly the execution of Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, pointing out to the way of arresting him, depriving him of his rights and his imprisonment, considering him as a peaceful human right defender. The participants also rejected the Saudi claims that the execution sentences are carried out in accordance with the Saudi Law, questioning the execution of minors in this regard. The organizations called upon the International Community to take action to prevent further executions, especially because the executions are expected to rise to 300 cases this year. The participants also noted the absence of human rights work in Saudi Arabia and the harassments faced by activists, for instance, banning the human rights defender, Samar Badawi from travelling following her participation in a meeting of UNHRC in 2014.
The ongoing 31th session of the UNHRC held in Geneva will last until March 24.