Saudi Arabia to Set up Two Panels on Human Rights
Saudi Arabia is to set up two committees on human rights, amid charges of widespread abuse, Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdel Aziz said Sunday.
He told the official news agency SPA that the decision to set up a government panel and an independent committee was taken two years ago and was not linked to recent charges from Amnesty International.
The decision will be formally announced soon, Prince Nayef said, dismissing "the unjust campaign against the kingdom."
On Friday, the interior minister said the conservative Muslim state would continue to apply its Sharia, or Islamic law, and insisted it did not violate human rights.
"The respect of human rights is present in Islam and sharia, and no other law on earth could be more just to man than Islam," Prince Nayef said.
He also dubbed the Amnesty International report released March 28 on alleged human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia as "clearly a tendentious campaign against Islam to misrepresent it."
"We can discuss their claims that we do not apply sharia, but we reject outright their opposition to Islam as a dogma and source for our laws, and reaffirm our attachment to Islam and its principles," he said.
Amnesty accused Saudi Arabia of arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, the persecution of political opponents and religious minorities and cruel judicial punishments, including amputations.
The kingdom, while rejecting the charges from the London-based human rights organization, said it was ready for a special rapporteur to visit to check on the independence of its judicial system.
The Gulf state regularly imposes the death penalty on murderers, drug traffickers, rapists, armed robbers and those convicted of apostasy, and also orders the amputation of the hands -- or sometimes feet -- of convicted thieves -- RIYADH (AFP).
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