Yes, you read that right. A Saudi by the name of Faisel Trad, who is the kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, was elected chair of an independent panel of experts on the UN’s human rights council.
This blog – and many, many others – has highlighted the appalling human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. The big increase in the use of the death penalty, often in public, floggings including that of Raif Badawi and most recently, the proposal to crucify a man. Along with a lack of free speech, and that women are denied basic rights and cannot drive for example, means that the country ranks as among the worst in the world.
UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer said according to the Independent (20 September):
Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious rights and women’s rights and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi.
It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing ins Saudi prisons.
A UN Watch representative also said “This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief”. It gives Mr Trad power over the appointments of key UN human rights representatives.
We have been engaged in correspondence with our local MP to persuade the government to do more and we await a reply to our letter to him. This was sparked by the FCO’s decision to drop the abolition of the death penalty as a specific policy.