RIYADH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) has launched three international initiatives to highlight the success of recent reforms implemented by the Kingdom, and enhance its cooperation with other organizations working in the field.
“(Saudi Arabia) has witnessed historic transformations and qualitative moves in human rights, as more than 70 reform decisions in the field were issued under the directives of King Salman and under the direct leadership and tireless follow-up of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Awwad Al-Awwad, the president of the HRC.
He described the reforms as a success story, and said the commission will work to highlight the achievements around the world.
At the forefront of this effort is the launch of the HRC’s International Communication Program, as part of which representatives of civil-society institutions will be invited to participate in commission meetings and international human-rights events. In addition, young national leaders will be trained to enhance the representation of the Kingdom in human-rights organizations worldwide.
The HRC considers that the program presents an important opportunity to educate and inform international partners and the public about the unprecedented steps Saudi Arabia is taking to meet international standards of human rights and its achievements to that end. It also provides a mechanism that will enable the country to develop its relationship with the international community and highlight developments and reforms.
Al-Awwad also announced the launch of the HRC International Platform, which will focus on sharing English-language information and data reflecting the progress made in safeguarding human rights in the Kingdom. This will include direct interaction with the public on social media.
The third new initiative is a monthly, English-language newsletter featuring information about the latest human-rights reforms and developments in Saudi Arabia, including efforts being made to promote and protect them. A mailing list has also been created that includes more than 500 prominent human-rights campaigners around the world. The newsletter and other HRC publications will be sent to them to enhance communication and interaction, and keep them informed of human-rights initiatives in the Kingdom.
Al-Awwad said that the new initiatives are designed to reveal the true state of human rights in the Kingdom, which has undergone unprecedented development at all levels in the past few years. They will also improve communication and encourage positive relationships with human-rights campaigners and organizations in other countries, he added, in an effort to correct misconceptions that have formed for many reasons, not least the absence until now of accurate information.
The HRC has already produced the first issue of its newsletter, which highlighted the Kingdom’s improved ranking in the latest edition of the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which was published in June. It praised the efforts being made by Saudi authorities to crack down on human trafficking through a series of reforms, the most recent of which was the launch of the national referral mechanism. This was strengthened by a Saudi-international training partnership, organized through the International Organization for Migration and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and a Saudi-US partnership to combat human trafficking.
The newsletter also reported on the Kingdom’s efforts to tackle terrorism, which undermines and threatens human rights. In addition, it included information about penal reforms, and the Supreme Court’s decision to abolish flogging as a punishment in ta’zir cases — in which, under Sharia, punishment is at the discretion of the judge or ruler — and replace it with imprisonment and/or a fine.