Saudi Arabia is preparing to tackle its abysmal human rights record with the launch of a new human rights strategy. Riyadh’s Human Rights Commission, Nasser Al-Shahrani, said that his country was undergoing huge changes including in the area of human rights.
Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, Al-Shahrani was reported by Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat as saying that work on improving human rights was part of a national strategy that includes more than 100 initiatives introduced by the current regime. According to the commissioner, changes will be seen “in legal and organisational fields related to human rights, including: justice, criminal justice, reinforcing integrity, combating corruption, fighting race discrimination, women and children rights as well as rights of physically disabled people.
Saudi has been the subject of numerous reports over its appalling human rights record. The Kingdom has been condemned over the lack of political freedom; suppression of free speech; obstruction of association, not to mention the high rate of death sentence in the country and Riyadh’s execution of the war in Yemen.
The Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman signalled earlier in the month that his country was willing to make changes to address concerns over human rights. Speaking to Times magazine he said the Saudi authorities have a plan to decrease the number of executions, but that they would not limit executions to people convicted of murder.
According to Al-Shahrani, this is a small example of the structural changes taking place under the current regime. “The country, under the leadership of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, is undergoing comprehensive reforms and continuous development within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.”