Amnesty and HRW trying to get Saudi Arabia suspended from the UN Human Rights Council

July 5, 2016

I have long argued that we should take another look at the possibility of using the suspension clause when members of the UN Human Rights Council go too far (see e.g. in the case of persistent reprisals https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/in the  reprisals ). On Wednesday 29 June 2016, the two leading human rights NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have urged UN member-states to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council over the killing of civilians in Yemen and repression at home. It will be a long shot but worth seeing how it works out:

They would begin lobbying the UN General Assembly to hold a vote on suspending Saudi Arabia from the Geneva-based council. Saudi Arabia was elected by the assembly in 2013 to sit on the 47-member council and a two-thirds majority would be needed to remove it from the body, which the rights groups and UN diplomats admitted would be unlikely. Libya is the only country ever to suspended from the council by a vote held in 2011 to protest Kadhafi’s violent crackdown on protesters.

Over the past few months, Saudi Arabia has gone beyond the pale and does not deserve anymore to sit on the Human Rights Council,” said HRW deputy director Philippe Bolopion. Human Rights Watch accused Riyadh of targeting civilians in the war in Yemen, using cluster bombs banned by international conventions and laying siege to ports to prevent basic goods from reaching Yemen. [The rights groups charged that Saudi Arabia had used its position as a council member to block an independent international investigation of war crimes in Yemen. Riyadh pressured UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to remove the coalition from a blacklist of child rights violators by threatening to withdraw funding to UN aid programs. Saudi Arabia has denied using pressure tactics and insists the coalition is not deliberately targeting civilians in Yemen].

Amnesty International said the Saudi government had brutally cracked down on dissent at home and resorts to executions for offenses that under international law are not punishable by the death penalty. Since 2013, all prominent human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia have been either thrown into prison, threatened into silence or have fled the country, said Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s UN director.

The rights groups said Saudi Arabia had managed to get away with such violations because of support from the United States and Britain.

 Source: Amnesty, HRW Want Saudis off UN Rights Council — Naharnet

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