Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 06 February 2013
note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals July 2012 est.)
The monarch is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission
created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of
Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but
the new system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
According to the Saudi Constitution, the King is both the Chief
of State and Head of Government
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
Monarchy with 13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Legal system is based on Shari'a law, several secular codes have been
introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: The monarch is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission created by royal decree in October 2006 established a
committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but the new system will not take effect until after
Crown Prince Sultan becomes king
Legislative: Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year
terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent to introduce elections for half of the members of
local and provincial assemblies and a third of the members of the national Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura, incrementally
over a period of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced
Judicial: Supreme Council of Justice
There are epigraphic Old South Arabian sources from about the 9th century BC, and Old North Arabian one from about the 6th
century BC. From the 3rd century AD, Arabian history becomes more tangible with the rise of the Himyarite Kingdom, and with the
appearance of the Qahtanis in the Levant and the gradual assimilation of the Nabateans by the Qahtanis in the early centuries AD, a
tendency of expansion that finally culminated in the explosive Muslim conquests of the 7th century. The earliest known events in
Arabian history are migrations from the peninsula into neighbouring areas. In the 3rd millennium BC, Semitic-speaking peoples
migrated from the Arabian peninsula into Mesopotamia, settled in Sumer, and eventually established the Akkadian Empire under
Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300). The Babylonians and Assyrians were later descended from the Semitic Akkadians. The East Semitic
group established itself at Ebla. The Amorites were West Semitic speakers who left Arabia in the late 3rd millennium and settled
along the Levant. Some of these migrants evolved into the Amorites and Canaanites of later times. Magan is attested as the name of
a trading partner of the Sumer. It is often assumed to be located in Oman. The A'adids established themselves in South Arabia
settling to the East of the Qahtan tribe. They established the Kingdom of A'ad around the 10th century BC to the 3rd century AD.
The A'ad nation were known to the Greeks and Egyptians. Claudius Ptolemy's Geographos (2nd century AD) refers to the place by
a Hellenized version of the inhabitants of the capital Ubar. During Minaean rule (9th century BC - 1st century BC) the capital was at
Karna (now known as Sadah). Their other important city was Yathill (now known as Baraqish). During Sabaean rule, trade and
agriculture flourished generating much wealth and prosperity. The Sabaean kingdom (9th century BC - 275AD) is located in what is
now the Aseer region in southwestern Yemen, and its capital, Ma'rib, is located near what is now Yemen's modern capital, Sana'a.
Yemen was called "Arabia Felix" by the Romans who were impressed by its wealth and prosperity. The Roman emperor Augustus
sent a military expedition to conquer the "Arabia Felix", under the orders of Aelius Gallus. After an unsuccessful siege of Ma'rib, the
Roman general retreated to Egypt, while his fleet destroyed the port of Aden in order to guarantee the Roman merchant route to
India. The first known inscriptions of Hadramaut are known from the 8th century BCE. It was first referenced by an outside
civilization in an Old Sabaic inscription of Karab'il Watar from the early 7th century BCE, in which the King of Hadramaut, Yada`'il,
is mentioned as being one of his allies. The kingdom of Hadramaut was eventually conquered by the Himyarite king Shammar
Yuhar`ish around 300 CE, unifying all of the South Arabian kingdoms. The ancient Kingdom of Awsan in South Arabia (modern
Yemen), with a capital at Hagar Yahirr in the wadi Markha, to the south of the wadi Bayhan, is now marked by a tell or artificial
mound, which is locally named Hagar Asfal. Achaemenid Arabia corresponded to the lands between Egypt and Mesopotamia, later
known as Arabia Petraea. According to Herodotus, Cambyses did not subdue the bedouins when he attacked Egypt in 525 BCE.
His successor Darius the Great does not mention the bedouins in the Behistun inscription from the first years of his reign, but
mentions them in later texts. This suggests that Darius conquered this part of Arabia. The Nabateans are not to be found among the
tribes that are listed in Arab genealogies because the Nabatean kingdom ended long time before the coming of Islam. They settled
east of the Syro-African rift between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, that is, in the land that had once been Edom. And although the
first sure reference to them dates from 312 BC, it is possible that they were present much earlier. Originally speaking an Aramaic
language, they adopted an Old North Arabian dialect from ca. the 4th century AD. Palmyra was made part of the Roman province
of Syria during the reign of Tiberius (14–37). It steadily grew in importance as a trade route linking Persia, India, China, and the
Roman empire. Qataban (2nd Century BC - 525 AD) was one of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms which thrived in the Baihan valley.
Aksumite (525 AD - 570 AD). established their capital at Thifar (now just a small village in the Ibb region) and gradually absorbed
the Sabaean kingdom. They traded from the port of Mawza'a on the Red Sea. Dhu Nuwas, a Himyarite king, changed the state
religion to Judaism in the beginning of the 6th century and began to massacre the Christians. The Persian king Khosrau I, sent troops
under the command of Vahriz (Persian اسپهبد وهرز), who helped the semi-legendary Saif bin Dhi Yazan to drive the Ethiopian
Aksumites out of Yemen. The rise of Islam in the 620s AD, and the subsequent religious importance of the Arabian cities of
Makkah (Makkah al-Mukarramah, or Mecca) and Medina (two of the holiest places in Islam), have given the rulers of this territory
significant influence beyond the peninsula. The First Saudi State was established in the year 1744 (1157 A.H.) when leader Sheikh
Muhammed ibn Abd al Wahhab settled in Diriyah and Prince Muhammed Ibn Saud agreed to support and espouse his cause, with
a view to cleansing the Islamic faith from distortions. The House of Saud with other allies rose to become the dominant state in
Arabia controlling most of the Nejd, but not either coast. Concerned at the growing power of the Saudis the Ottoman Sultan
instructed Mohammed Ali Pasha to reconquer the area. Ali sent his sons Tusun Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha who were successful in
routing the Saudi forces in 1818. After a rebuilding period following the ending of the First Saudi State, the House of Saud returned
to power in the Second Saudi State in 1824. The state lasted until 1891 when it succumbed to the Al Rashid dynasty of Ha'il. In
1902 Ibn Saud reconquered Riyadh, the first of a series of conquests leading to the creation of the modern nation state of Saudi
Arabia in 1932. The Third Saudi state was founded by the late King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (known internationally as Abdul Aziz Ibn
Saud). By the Treaty of Jeddah, signed on May 20, 1927, the United Kingdom recognized the independence of Abdul Aziz's realm
(then known as the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd). In 1932, these regions were unified as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The
discovery of oil on March 3, 1938 transformed the country. King Abdul Aziz died in 1953 and was succeeded by his eldest son,
Saud, who reigned for 11 years. In 1964, Saud was forced to abdicate in favour of his half-brother, Faisal, who had served as
Foreign Minister. Because of fiscal difficulties, King Saud had been persuaded in 1958 to delegate direct conduct of Saudi
Government affairs to Faisal as Prime Minister; Saud briefly regained control of the government in 1960-62. In October 1962,
Faisal outlined a broad reform program, stressing economic development. Proclaimed King in 1964 by senior royal family members
and religious leaders, Faisal also continued to serve as Prime Minister. This practice has been followed by subsequent kings. Saudi
forces did not participate in the Six-Day (Arab-Israeli) War of June 1967, but the government later provided annual subsidies to
Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to support their economies. During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Saudi Arabia participated in the Arab oil
boycott of the United States and Netherlands. In 1975, King Faisal was assassinated by a nephew, who was executed after an
extensive investigation concluded that he acted alone. Faisal was succeeded by his half-brother Khalid as King and Prime Minister;
their half-brother Prince Fahd was named Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. In June 1982, King Khalid died, and
Fahd became King and Prime Minister in a smooth transition. Another half-brother, Prince Abdullah, Commander of the Saudi
National Guard, was named Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister. King Fahd's brother, Prince Sultan, the Minister of
Defense and Aviation, became Second Deputy Prime Minister. Under King Fahd, the Saudi economy adjusted to sharply lower oil
revenues resulting from declining global oil prices. King Fahd played a key role before and during the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Saudi
Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for
the liberation of Kuwait the following year. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, it became known that 15 of the 19 suspected
hijackers were Saudi. Saudi Arabia became the focus of worldwide attention once again, as it was questioned whether the
government was indeed cracking down on radicals. The Saudi government pledged their support to the War on Terror, and vowed
to try to eliminate militant elements. King Fahd suffered a stroke in November 1995, and died in July 2005. He was succeeded by
his brother Crown Prince Abdullah, who had handled most of the day-to-day operations of the government. In November 2005,
following 12 years of talks, the World Trade Organization gave the green light to Saudi Arabia's membership. In December 2006,
Saudi Arabia pressured Britain into halting a fraud investigation into the £43bn Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Saudi
justice came under under criticism over the Qatif rape case in which a 19-year old rape victim was sentenced to 6 months in prison
and 90 lashes. The king eventually isssued a pardon. In October 2010, US officials confirmed a plan to sell $60 billion worth of
arms to Saudi Arabia - the most lucrative single arms deal in US history. Relations were hurt over the United States diplomatic
cables leak by the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks in December 2010. As the Arab Spring unrest and protests began to spread
across Arab world in early 2011, King Abdullah announced an increase in welfare spending amounting to $10.7 billion. After a
number of small demonstrations in the mainly Shia areas of the east, public protests were banned in March 2011, and King
Abdullah warned that threats to the nation's security and stability would not be tolerated. At the same time Saudi troops were sent
to participate in the crackdown on unrest in Bahrain. King Abdullah gave asylum to deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of
Tunisia and telephoned President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (prior to his deposition) to offer his support. In June 2011 Saudi women
mounted a symbolic protest drive in defiance of the ban on female car drivers. Saudi Arabia agreed to allow its women athletes to
compete in the 2012 Olympics for the first time, amidst speculation that the entire Saudi team might have been disqualified on
grounds of gender discrimination.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 17% of
the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum
sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the
growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Diversification efforts are
focusing on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. Over 5 million foreign
workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors, while Riyadh is struggling to reduce
unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population, which
generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training
and education, most recently with the opening of the King Abdallah University of Science and Technology - Saudi Arabia's first
co-educational university. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005
after many years of negotiations. The government has begun establishing six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to
promote foreign investment and plans to spend $373 billion between 2010 and 2014 on social development and infrastructure
projects to advance Saudi Arabia's economic development.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Saudi Arabia)
There are no recognized national political parties, although the Green Party of Saudi Arabia has been active since 2001. The state's
ideology is Wahhabism. This flavour of Islam spreads further by funding the construction of mosques and madrassas (schools based
on the Qur'an) around the world. The leading members of the royal family choose the king from among themselves with the
subsequent approval of the ulema.
The central institution of Saudi Arabian Government is the Saudi monarchy. The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi
Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king, Abd Al Aziz Al Saud, and that the Qur'an is the constitution
of the country, which is governed on the basis of Islamic law (Shari'a). On 20 October 2006 the creation of a committee of princes
to vote on the eligibility of future kings and crown princes was set up. The committee, to be known as the Allegiance Institution, will
include the sons and grandsons of King Abdul Aziz, under the new rules the committee can vote for one of three princes nominated
by the king. In the event that neither the king nor the crown prince are deemed fit to rule, a five-member transitory council would run
state affairs for a maximum of one week.
There are no recognized political parties or national elections, except the local elections which were held in the year 2005. The
king's powers are theoretically limited within the bounds of Shari'a and other Saudi traditions. He also must retain a consensus of the
Saudi royal family, religious leaders (ulema), and other important elements in Saudi society.
Saudi Arabia has little formal criminal code, and instead criminal laws largely come out through the kingdom's adherence to a
conservative form of Sunni Islam commonly known as Wahhabism and the desire of the royal family to prevent any type of political
opposition. The kingdom does have an extensive civil and commercial code, mainly to encourage economic development and
foreign investment. "Religious cops" (Mutaween) are employed by the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention
of Vice, a government bureaucracy in Saudia Arabia, to enforce Shari'a Law, including banning the practice (in public) of religions
other than Islam.
In 2009, the king made significant personnel changes to the government by appointing reformers to key positions and the first
woman to a ministerial post. However, the changes have been criticized as being too slow or merely cosmetic, and the royal
family is reportedly divided on the speed and direction of reform. In 2011, Abdullah announced that women will be able to be
nominated to the Shura Council.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen to
stem illegal cross-border activities; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue discussions on a maritime boundary with Iran; Saudi Arabia
claims Egyptian-administered islands of Tiran and Sanafir
Refugees (country of origin): 291,000 (Palestinian Territories) (2009)
Death penalty for traffickers; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is both head of state and head of
government. The government bases its legitimacy on its interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law) and the 1992 Basic Law, which specifies
that the rulers of the country shall be male descendants of the founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud. The Basic Law sets out
the system of governance, rights of citizens, and powers and duties of the government, and it provides that the Qur’an and the
Traditions (Sunna) of the Prophet Muhammad serve as the country’s constitution. On September 29, the country held elections on a
nonparty basis for half of the 1,632 seats on the 285 municipal councils around the country. Women were not permitted to be candidates
or to vote. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The most important human rights problems reported included citizens’ lack of the right and legal means to change their government;
pervasive restrictions on universal rights such as freedom of expression, including on the Internet, and freedom of assembly,
association, movement, and religion; and a lack of equal rights for women and children, as well as for workers.
Other human rights problems reported included torture and other abuses, poor prison and detention center conditions, holding political
prisoners and detainees, denial of due process and arbitrary arrest and detention, and arbitrary interference with privacy, home, and
correspondence. Violence against women, trafficking in persons, and discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect, race, and
ethnicity were common. Lack of governmental transparency and access made it difficult to assess the magnitude of many reported
human rights problems.
The government prosecuted and punished a limited number of officials who committed abuses, particularly those engaged in or complicit
with corruption. There were reports that some members of the security forces and other senior officials, including those linked to the
royal family, committed abuses with impunity.
Click here to read more »
14 April 2009
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, CIVIL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk*
MISSION TO SAUDI ARABIA∗∗
This report contains my findings following an official visit to Saudi Arabia in February 2008.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is confronted with unprecedented challenges. Pressures for change, particularly in the past two decades,
have resulted in modest reforms which have nonetheless had significant implications for women’s rights.
The voices, aspirations and demands of Saudi women are as diverse and multiple as are their life experiences. While there are those who
express content and satisfaction with their lives, others contend that there are serious levels of discriminatory practices against women,
which compromise their rights and dignity as full human beings and undermine the true values of their society.
A number of positive developments have taken place affecting the status of women, particularly in access to education, which has
resulted in significant improvements in women’s literacy rates within a relatively short period of time. However, this progress has not
been accompanied by a comparable increase in women’s participation in the labour force and they are largely excluded from decision-
Sex segregation and the practice of male guardianship pose important obstacles to women’s autonomy, legal capacity as adults, and
ability to participate in the full range of activities available in society and in the workplace.
In recent years, violence against women has been recognized as a public policy issue. However, current judicial practices pertaining to
divorce and child custody as well as women’s lack of autonomy and economic independence continue to limit their ability to escape from
abusive marriages. Issues related to early/forced marriage and divorce are also gaining public attention, although there are few
opportunities for redress due to lack of legal clarity and the discretionary power of judges on these matters. Violence against female
domestic workers, who are amongst the most vulnerable, is not sufficiently recognized.
The report provides a number of recommendations with respect to: measures necessary to women’s empowerment and increased
participation in the public sphere; the elimination of violence against women and girls; judicial and legal reforms; and measures to combat
abuse of migrant workers. Recommendations are also made on ways in which Saudi Arabia can strengthen its cooperation with
international human rights mechanisms.
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New Report: Governments Grow Increasingly Repressive Online, Activists Fight Back
Sep 24 2012 - 12:01am
Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating
speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released
today by Freedom House. Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that
increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.
“The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites
and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier—but no less dangerous—methods for
controlling online conversations,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.
The battle over internet freedom comes at a time when nearly one third of the world’s population has used the internet. Governments are
responding to the increased influence of the new medium by seeking to control online activity, restricting the free flow of information,
and otherwise infringing on the rights of users. The methods of control are becoming more sophisticated, and tactics previously evident
in only the most repressive environments—such as governments instigating deliberate connection disruptions or hiring armies of paid
commentators to manipulate online discussions—are appearing in a wider set of countries.
Freedom on the Net 2012, which identifies key trends in internet freedom in 47 countries, evaluates each country based on barriers to
access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.
The study found that Estonia had the greatest degree of internet freedom among the countries examined, while the United States ranked
second. Iran, Cuba, and China received the lowest scores in the analysis. Eleven other countries received a ranking of Not Free,
including Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Thailand. A total of 20 of the 47 countries examined experienced a negative trajectory in
internet freedom since January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia registering the greatest declines.
Several downgrades, particularly in the Middle East, reflected intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers as the
authorities sought to quell public calls for reform. In Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and China, authorities imposed new restrictions
after observing the key role that social media played in the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Click here to read more »
15 January 2013
Saudi Arabia: Remove conditions on royal ‘pardon’ of reformists
Six jailed reformists in Saudi Arabia must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International reiterated after they and 10
others convicted with them were offered a royal “pardon” on the condition they sign pledges renouncing their public activism.
On Saturday, activists, including a lawyer for one of the reformists, circulated information about the pardon for the 16 men, who had
been found guilty in November 2011 on a range of serious charges related to their peaceful human rights activism.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has reportedly told the 16 men that for the pardon to be carried out, they must first sign pledges to not
repeat their offences or engage in public activism, and to thank the King.
“Placing such ludicrous conditions on a pardon defeats the very purpose of issuing one in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Middle East
and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
So far, six of the reformists have reportedly said they refuse to sign the pledge and continue to be detained. They include Dr Suliaman al-
Rashudi, Dr Saud al-Hashimi, Saif al-Din al-Sharif, Dr Musa al-Qirni, Abdul Rahman al-Shumayri and Abdul Rahman Khan.
“The six men still detained are prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned solely on the basis of their peaceful activism – they must
be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Luther.
The 16 men, many of whom are professionals, include prominent reform advocates who attempted to set up a human rights association
in Saudi Arabia.
Most of the group were held in pre-trial detention for up to three and half years before even being officially charged.
At least two of the men were alleged to have been tortured in detention. Many of the men had been held in prolonged solitary
confinement, at times in incommunicado detention.
In November 2011 the Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Riyadh, which was set up to deal with terrorism cases, handed them
lengthy sentences ranging from five to 30 years’ imprisonment. They were convicted of charges that included forming a secret
organization, attempting to seize power, incitement against the King, financing terrorism, and money laundering.
Trial proceedings in their cases were grossly unfair. Lawyers and families were denied details of the charges against the men for months
and were also denied access to many of the court proceedings.
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Saudi Arabia: Free Detainee Held Since April for Tweets
Detained for Expressing His Opinion
October 31, 2012
(Beirut) – The Saudi authorities should immediately charge or release Mohammed Salama, a dual US and Saudi citizen detained without
charge since April 2012.
Intelligence forces arrested Salama at his home on April 30 after he posted several tweets criticizing interpretations of the sayings of the
Prophet Muhammad, also known as the hadith, on his personal twitter account. Judiciary officials have neither publicly announced any
charges against Salama nor suggested that he may be guilty of any commonly recognizable criminal offense. According to Salama’s
family, there is no record of his detention or of any charges being brought against him.
“Neither Salama nor his family have been informed of any accusations against him,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at
Human Rights Watch. “No one should languish in prison without charge, especially for expressing a peaceful opinion.”
Article 144 of the 2002 Saudi Law of Criminal Procedure places a six-month limit on the period that detainees can be held without
charge, after which they must be charged or released. Salama will complete six months in detention without charge on October 30. His
family said he was arrested by the General Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Intelligence. In September, his family contacted
the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution and was told that an investigation into Salama’s case was continuing.
In March, Salama published tweets questioning conventional interpretations of some passages of the hadith, and making comments about
hadiths in online discussions. He stated that, “the Prophet himself questioned the Quran,” and that, “Thoughts of suicide are normal,
because the Prophet himself contemplated it.” He also posted a video on YouTube criticizing a cleric for his political views. Unidentified
online commentators subsequently called for his arrest and execution.
Another Saudi has been in custody for his tweets discussing religion since February 12. Saudi authorities arrested and detained Hamza
Kashgari immediately after Malaysia extradited him, despite pleas by human rights organizations not to send him back to Saudi Arabia.
Kashgari had posted messages on his Twitter account that top Saudi government clerics said constituted apostasy.
The Saudi law allowing six months of detention without charge is inconsistent with the Arab Charter on Human Rights, ratified by Saudi
Arabia, which states in article 14(3) that “[a]nyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, in a language that he
understands, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him” Article 14(5) of the Charter says,
“Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise
judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. His release may be subject to guarantees to appear for
trial. Pre-trial detention shall in no case be the general rule.”
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Speech of His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz
Head of the Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Before the United Nations General Assembly 67th Session
September 28th, 2012 - New York
The phenomenon of terrorism is one of the most important challenges that we currently face. Combating this phenomenon is no longer a
national matter confined to the borders of a specific state. Rather, it is a goal of the entire international community. Emanating from the
principles and values in which it believes, the Kingdom has reaffirmed on many occasions its condemnation and denunciation of
terrorism actions, and expressed its support to the eradication of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Kingdom also stressed
its cooperation and full readiness to join all international efforts to combat terrorism, and to effectively contribute in the context of a
collective international effort under the umbrella of the United Nations to define the phenomenon of terrorism without selectivity or
double-standards. This stance reflects the Kingdom's consistent and persistent policy against international terrorism and its perpetrators.
The Kingdom has suffered from terrorist operations in the past. It undertook, and still undertakes, numerous measures to combat this
phenomenon at all national, regional, and international levels, including enacting necessary laws to eliminate terrorism and its funding
sources. To this end, Riyadh hosted an international conference in 2005 which resulted in several recommendations, including a call for
the establishment of the "United Nations Center for Counter Terrorism or the UNCCT which was later launched on September 19, 2011.
In this regard, the Kingdom notes the UNGA resolution titled, "Terrorist Attacks on Internationally Protected Persons" of 18 February
2012, and stresses the importance that all countries carry out their duties and responsibilities related to the protection and preservation of
the security and safety of diplomatic personnel and the premises of diplomatic and consular missions, in addition to economic interests
on their territories.
Saudi Arabia cares about spreading a culture of tolerance and understanding between the followers of religions in order to promote
dialogue between the followers of religions and cultures. Accordingly, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin
Abdulaziz A1 Saud, called for a UNGA high-level meeting on promoting dialogue between religions and cultures for a world dominated
by coexistence and acceptance of the other. This was reflected in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques patronage of the Honorable
Makkah Conference, and the 2008 Madrid World Dialogue which has resulted in the establishment of the King Abdullah Center for
Dialogue among Followers of Religions and Cultures in Vienna. In addition, the foresight of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
was demonstrated by announcing the establishment of a center for dialogue between Islamic sects in the fourth special session of the
Islamic Summit Conference held in Honorable Makkah during the month of August 2012.
Click here to read more »
Monday, December 24, 2012
Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) to be based in Saudi prisons
RIYADH, Asharq Al-Awsat - Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights is to set up permanent offices in five of the Kingdom’s
prisons, according to a report in Al Riyadh daily newspaper.
The initiative , directed by Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif, aims to ensure better services for inmates and detainees.
The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has received those offices, some of which are nearly operational, Dr Saleh Al Shirida,
member of the society, told Al Riyadh.
The NSHR will receive complaints from inmates and detainees, and will also monitor the prison’s daily activities
Click here to read more »
Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, Washington DC
December 5, 2012
Commentaries and Analyses
Interfaith Center, State Within a State, Women, Massive Arms Deals and Blasphemous Law
Saudi Interfaith Dialogue: Genuine or Duplicitous Maneuver?
CDHR’s Commentary: During the opening of the Saudi-financed King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural
Dialogue in Vienna on November 26, Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the Saudi head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, is
reported to have said that the Center “…would promote human values, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people of different
religious faiths and cultures.”
His misleading speech was amplified by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal who said that “the sectarian differences are to be elements
for understanding and not elements for collision.” These two men are not known for spiritual reconciliation within their own religiously
divided country. In fact, neither of them has ever condemned discrimination against their own religious minorities nor have they deplored
their country’s intolerance toward non-Muslims in or out of Saudi Arabia.
For those unacquainted with Saudi Arabia, its absolute monarchy, its oppressed population (especially women and minorities), and the
state’s lethal doctrine which advocates hate and intolerance of other beliefs, the two Saudi officials’ words in Vienna may sound
meritorious and honorable. However, the reality on the ground in Saudi Arabia contradicts the Saudi officials’ statements during
international interfaith gatherings.
According to scholars at Al-Azhar University in Egypt – the oldest and most prestigious Islamic institution – Saudi doctrine and its
promulgators are dangerous to Muslims and non-Muslims alike and “must be fought by all lawful means available.” Dr. Abdulrahman
Wahid, the former president of the most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, said that “Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat
the Wahhabi ideology.”
It has been abundantly documented that Saudi Arabia ranks at the top of any list of religious intolerance. Nothing can be more intolerant
of other faiths than rejecting their validity and advocating the destruction of their religious sanctuaries in all of the vast land of the
Arabian Peninsula, as called for by the Saudi Mufti, the highest religious authority and trusted friend of King Abdullah after whom the
Vienna-based and Saudi financed Center is named.
Having been misled by overt Saudi assurances on many previous occasions, the representatives of Judaism and Christianity, the other
two major faiths the Center is ostensibly designed to engage, must ask why they cannot practice their beliefs in Saudi Arabia. They must
also ask why neither Judaism nor Christianity is taught in Saudi schools as legitimate beliefs, as Islam is treated in the West and in Israel.
How can there be “peaceful coexistence” and how can sectarian differences “be elements for understanding and not elements for
collision” if the Saudi state considers Christianity and Judaism incomplete and unfulfilling? Why are there no study centers for Judaism
and Christianity in Saudi universities so the Saudi people and other Muslims can learn about these beliefs, their histories, philosophies and
tremendous contributions to past and present civilizations?
While King Abdullah, Dr. Al-Sudais and Saud Al-Faisal go around the world to promote religious understanding through dialogue, at
home they perpetuate endemic discrimination against their own religious minorities. Are Saudi officials and their champions in the West
promoting genuine interfaith dialogue or are they primarily interested in spreading their lethal ideology which feeds extremism and
Is the West succumbing to Saudi demands to accommodate their intolerant brand of Islam and to pass international laws to criminalize
criticism of Islam because of Saudi economic and religious influence or is it due to the Saudi threat of terrorism, as was applied against
Great Britain during the BAE arms deal corruption inquiry? Did the Saudis apply similar threats to the US Department of Justice, which
also caved in to Saudi demands not to pursue legal action against members of the Saudi royal family for their involvement in financing
the 9/11 terrorists? Given this evidence, how can international religious dialogue eliminate the threat of terrorism posed by the
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Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
King and Prime Minister
since 1 August 2005
Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
Heir Apparent and Crown Prince
since 1 August 2005
Current situation: Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from South and Southeast Asia who are subjected to
conditions that constitute involuntary servitude including being subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages,
confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because
some are confined to the house in which they work unable to seek help; Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian,
Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street
vendors; some Nigerian women were reportedly trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation
Tier rating: Tier 3 -Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not
making significant efforts to do so; the government continues to lack adequate anti-trafficking laws and, despite evidence of
widespread trafficking abuses, did not report any criminal prosecutions, convictions, or prison sentences for trafficking crimes
committed against foreign domestic workers (2008)
Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
King and Prime Minister
since 1 August 2005
Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
Deputy Prime Minister since 19 June 2012