New projects aim to share Saudi human-rights successes with the world

Awwad Al-Awwad, the president of the HRC. (File/SPA)
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Updated 16 July 2020

New projects aim to share Saudi human-rights successes with the world

  • Initiatives aim to highlight historic reforms and promote more accurate international view of Kingdom’s efforts to improve human rights
  • Human Rights Commission also aims to enhance cooperation with organizations working in the field in other countries

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.

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

Updated 55 min 29 sec ago

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.