Saudi Arabia re-elected to UN body despite rights violations

October 29, 2016 2:15 pm

The picture shows a meeting of the General Assembly at its headquarters in New York on October 26, 2016. (Photo by AP)

’s membership on the United Nations Council has been renewed notwithstanding the Saudi regime’s dire rights record inside and outside the kingdom.
In a secret balloting process on Friday, the 193-member General Assembly elected 14 members to the 47-nation council, among them Saudi Arabia. Russia, however, failed to win a seat on the council. 
It will be Riyadh’s third term in the UN rights body despite mounting criticism from international human rights groups. 
Back in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International called on the UN to immediately suspend Saudi Arabia’s membership on its rights council due to its appalling rights record.
“Saudi Arabia has amassed an appalling record of violations in Yemen while a Human Rights Council member, and has damaged the body’s credibility by its bullying tactics to avoid accountability,” said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at HRW.
The rights groups, however, failed in the campaign to stop Saudi Arabia from being re-elected.
Additionally in June, the UN blacklisted Saudi Arabia after concluding in a report that Riyadh was last year responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen, where it has been engaged in a deadly military aggression since March 2015.
A few days later, however, the world body removed the kingdom from the blacklist, citing threats by the regime and its allies to cut off funding to many UN programs. The move triggered an outcry from human rights groups.
On October 8, in one of the deadliest attacks in Yemen, Saudi warplanes bombarded a funeral hall packed with mourners in the capital, Sana’a, killing over 140 people and injuring at least 525 others.
HRW said that the Sana’a bombing constitutes an apparent war crime, while Amnesty International said the attack was a reminder of the need for the suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni rescue workers search for body parts amid the rubble of a destroyed building following a Saudi airstrike in Sana’a on October 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The country is also under fire for its high number of executions within its borders. Saudi Arabia has also a disappointing women’s rights record.
It is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The ban stems from a religious fatwa imposed by Wahhabi clerics. If women get behind the wheel in the kingdom, they may be arrested, sent to court and even flogged.
Late last month, thousands of Saudis signed a petition calling on Riyadh to treat women as full citizens by recognizing their complete rights and ending the controversial male guardianship system.
Saudi Arabia is also widely seen as a major sponsor of Takfiri terrorists wreaking havoc mainly in the region.
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