Saudi Arabia ‘fights torture’ & ‘promotes human rights,’ Gulf state tells UN

© Fred Thornhill
Saudi Arabia told the United Nations Human Rights Council that it “fights torture” and leads the way on human rights, despite planning to hang three juveniles on the basis of “confessions” allegedly extracted under duress.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture and Information, Bandar al-Ali, made the comments in Geneva in response to a report delivered to the UN Human Rights Council by Juan Mendez, the special rapporteur on torture.

Al-Ali said the Gulf theocracy, which is closely allied to the UK, is a bastion of human rights.

Saudi Arabia is one of the very first countries which promoted human rights,” he said.

Such a support and a commitment to promote and protect human rights is but a duty imposed by the Islamic sharia from which the statutes of my country is derived.”

He also defended Saudi Arabia’s record on torture, saying the regime “fights” the practice in all of its “physical and moral manifestations through strict legislation and executive measures that are applied on all.

His claims come as human rights groups fear three minors, imprisoned since 2012 in the wake of protests in the east of the country and tortured in captivity, will be executed soon.

According to UK charity Reprieve, Abdullah al Zaher, Ali al Nimr and Dawood al Marhoon were tortured into confessing by the shadowy Specialized Criminal Court.

Reprieve death penalty team chief Maya Foa said: “Saudi Arabia’s claims to the UN Human Rights Council sound like a sick joke when one considers the reality within the country.

She said “the arrest, torture and execution of juveniles, political protestors and others” is common Saudi practice.

Countries that are close to Saudi Arabia – including the UK – must urge that government to halt these terrible abuses, instead of simply trying to cover them up with paper-thin rhetoric,” she added.