Saudi envoy to lead UN human rights panel

Published September 21st, 2015 - 06:13 GMT

Saudi Arabia's envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will head an influential panel on human rights, a watchdog group revealed Sunday - despite Riyadh's own poor track record for human rights issues. 

Saudi envoy Faisal Trad will chair the five-member Consultative Group, a UNHRC panel which chooses representatives to report and address human rights violations in 77 countries abroad, UN Watch noted Sunday.

Tellingly, while Trad was appointed to head the council in June 2015, Geneva has remained quiet until now. 

"It's scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer stated. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”

“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added. “This UN appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief, and underscores the credibility deficit of a human rights council that already counts Russia, Cuba, China, Qatar and Venezuela among its elected members.”

“The UN often describes these experts as the ‘crown jewels’ of its Human Rights Council, yet the world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts’ appointment.”

Saudi Arabia was ranked one of the worst 20 countries in the world for freedom of the press, according to the 2015 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. 

NGO the Borgen Project, which aims to end poverty and hunger, named Saudi Arabia one of the top 20 worst human rights violators in July.

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