JEDDAH: Awwad Al-Awwad, the president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) highlighted the role the media plays in protecting and promoting people’s rights.
Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of a new training program for Saudi journalists and media specialists, he also noted the progress made by the Kingdom in terms of human rights which, he said, was the result of the “pioneering reforms implemented by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
Al-Awwad said that a number of initiatives have been launched and actions taken that have helped to boost the country’s international ranking in human-rights reports, including one on human trafficking published by the US State Department.
“In addition, a World Bank report titled ‘Women, Business and the Law 2020’ ranked the Kingdom first out of 190 countries in terms of progress and reforms in the field of the empowerment of women and the preservation of their rights,” he added.
The new training course, titled Human Rights-Based Approach in Journalism, was developed by the HRC in cooperation with the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“We value what the Saudi media is doing to protect and promote human rights,” Al-Awwad said. “We are looking forward to further media capacity-building in this field, which falls within the HRC’s objectives to build national capabilities in all human rights-related fields.
“The media is an important and effective partner in the spread of the human-rights culture and we count on it to showcase content that promotes societal awareness. We look forward to having a more effective partnership with the media, in all its various forms, to promote human rights and this culture together.”
Nathalie Fustier, the UN’s resident coordinator, said initiatives such as the training course help to promote strong partnerships with the media based on mutual trust and communication.
“This contributes to improving knowledge of human rights and the capacity to help accelerate the achievement of the (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” she added. “The UN is committed to strengthening journalistic capabilities and professionalism. This program is one of the results of the cooperation between HRC and OHCHR, within the framework of the Human Rights Technical Cooperation Program in the Kingdom, which seeks to build the capacities needed to protect and promote human rights in the country and boost the Kingdom’s participation in international human-rights mechanisms.”
Roueida El-Hage, the OHCHR’s regional representative for the Middle East and North Africa region, said the media has a pivotal role to play in all countries and societies.
“Its impact has multiplied in recent years due to the development of means of communication,” she said. “This requires us to focus on the relation between the media and the human-rights culture, as interdependence is essential to achieve sustainable societal development.”
The participants in the first session of the training program discussed international human rights law, the workings of the UN, human rights concepts and terms, the legal regulation of the media and the current state of human rights in the Kingdom.