Saudi rights chief highlights media’s role in promoting and protecting human rights

Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad
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Updated 15 July 2020

Saudi rights chief highlights media’s role in promoting and protecting human rights

  • President of Saudi Human Rights Commission notes progress made in the Kingdom as he launches training course for journalists

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.


Better in the long run: 2,600 join Saudi 10-day marathon

Updated 13 August 2020

Better in the long run: 2,600 join Saudi 10-day marathon

  • At least 40 nationalities were represented in all age groups

JEDDAH: More than 2,600 people took part in a 10-day walking and running marathon in the Kingdom, reaching a combined distance of more than 448,000 km.
At least 40 nationalities were represented in all age groups.
The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) launched the “Step Together” initiative as part of a series of competitive walk-runs. The SFA event, the first since lockdown restrictions were eased, took place from July 17-26. About 30 para-athletes joined the competition, making it a hallmark achievement for SFA inclusivity.
Tahani Ibrahem, a 29-year-old Saudi participant, said her Eastern Flames football club training encouraged her to join the marathon.
“I joined one other marathon in 2019 and won fourth place. I’ve loved running since I was a teenager,” she told Arab News.
Ibrahem said that she was happy that para-athletes included in the marathon and praised the SFA for giving people and communities a chance to unite for one goal.
“They are just like us. Disability is something of the mind, not the body,” she said.
Ibrahem completed 42 km in the 10-day marathon, spending five hours a day walking and running.
“We were thrilled to see such high registration numbers for our first ‘Step Together’ event,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, the SFA president.
“The diversity of participants for the first in the walk-run series was important to us. We recruited all ages and abilities for this event and are delighted that they made it their own. It truly was ‘Sports for All’ as we had many children and seniors take part, and we were proud to have a number of disabled competitors,” he said.
Those who met the distance goals were awarded with medals and e-certificates of the achievement. In the 21.1 km event, the fastest time was recorded by Mohammed Ayyash (1hr 11min 5sec), followed by Waleed Homidan (1hr 11min 59sec) and in third place, Osama Ayyash (1hr 23min 5sec).
Ronel Wienand, competing with the Riyadh Road Runners, was the fastest woman, completed the half marathon in 1hr 58min 7sec.