HRC49 joint statement

Saudi Arabia
Middle East & North Africa

HRC49: End human rights violations against defenders in Saudi Arabia

ISHR, ALQST for Human Rights and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights urge the HRC to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Since the last UN Human Rights Council joint statement on human rights in Saudi Arabia in September 2020, the situation in the country has deteriorated. Although a number of high-profile women human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience were conditionally released, they remain under severe restrictions, which means that they are not yet free.

Furthermore, as documented by ALQST for Human Rights, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, and other NGOs, the Saudi Authorities resumed their habitual pattern of abuses with renewed intensity throughout 2021. These include arbitrary arrests and detention of people peacefully exercising their fundamental rights, medical and administrative neglect of detainees leading to their deaths in detention centers including the murder in jail of Musa al-Qarni in October 2021, and handing down lengthy prison sentences to numerous peaceful critics for exercising their basic rights, including a 20-year sentence for humanitarian worker, Abdulrahman al-Sadhan.

Over 67 individuals were executed in 2021 with more than twice as many in 2020. This year alone, over 90 individuals have been executed, following the mass execution of 81 men on 12 March, 2022. 

During the General Debate of the 49th session of the Human Rights Council under Agenda Item 4, several States condemned the application of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia including Finland, Australia, and Austria. Sweden expressed concerns over the use of counter terrorism legislation to restrict human rights in Saudi Arabia, and  the persecution of civil society organizations by the Saudi authorities. Denmark and Belgium condemned the recent mass executions of 81 people and strongly protested the death penalty, especially since some people were condemned to death without following due process. They urged the government of Saudi Arabia to amend their legislation to adhere to international standards. 

Saudi Arabia has however, refused to address the repeated calls by UN Special Procedures and over 40 states at the Council in March 2019, September 2019 and September 2020, demonstrating its lack of political will to genuinely improve the human rights situation and to engage constructively with the Council. Based on objective criteria, we reiterate our call on the Council to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

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