Saudi Arabia has been appointed to chair of a panel of experts at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), prompting uproar from rights campaigners worldwide.
Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.N., is now chairman of a panel of five diplomats charged with appointing independent experts to serve in 77 different positions around the world for the UNHRC.
The news comes just after Saudi Arabia advertised for eight additional executioners. Numbers of executions have sharply risen this year. In June the country executed its one-hundredth person so far this year, but there have been many more since then.
“It is scandalous that the U.N. chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”
“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council,” he added “but for the U.N. to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons.”
Saudi Arabia carries out beheadings for crimes including apostasy and sorcery. It forbids women from driving and they cannot travel, have a job, run a business, open a bank account or even undergo certain medical procedures without the permission of their male guardian – either their husband or their closest male relative. The country’s leading religious authority, Grand Mufti AbdulAziz al-ash-Sheikh, drew fire earlier this year for saying it was permissible for a man to marry a girl under the age of 15.
Saudi Arabia is currently drawing criticism for its highly publicized flogging of blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10-years imprisonment and 1,000 lashes for setting up a blog which criticised the government.
His wife, Ensaf Haider, currently organizing an international campaign to try and secure Badawi’s release said on her Facebook page “It’s like a green light to start flogging Raif Badawi again.”
This revelations about the UNHRC appointment came after it emerged that a young Shiite man, arrested when 17 for protesting over the discrimination faced by Shiites in the Wahhabi kingdom, is to be beheaded, then his headless body is to crucified and displayed publicly. His final appeal was refused by an appeals court, during which he was denied access to a lawyer and may have been tortured into confessing.