The Human Rights Council of the United Nations may have made some controversial decisions in the past, but its recent move to give Saudi Arabia a key role on an influential panel definitely takes the cake.
In one of the most ironic decisions in recent history, the body responsible for promoting human rights around the world elected an envoy from Saudi Arabia – the country notorious for beheading and flogging people – to oversee human rights standards globally.
Faisal bin Hassan Trad, the kingdom’s envoy to UNHRC in Geneva, has been selected to head a group of ambassadors, known as the Consultative Group, according to the U.N. Watch. The council, which includes the U.N. ambassadors of Greece, Algeria, Chile and Lithuania, is tasked with appointing more than 75 personnel from around the world “with mandates to report and advice on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.”
The controversial selection, which stumped a lot of critics, leaves the world to wonder if “oil trumps human rights” and sparked the ire of human rights activists across the world.
“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.”
A UNHRC report has also revealed that Faisal Trad was initially elected in June, but his appointment went intentionally unreported. Neur believes the position could be a consolation prize for the Saudis for withdrawing their bid to head the 47-nation council following international condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights records.
“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,” he added. “This U.N. appointment is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief.”
Badawi, a prominent Saudi blogger and the co-founder of Saudi Liberal Network, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” His wife Ensaf Haidar believes that handing such an important human rights role to kingdom’s ambassador was effectively “a green light to start flogging [her husband] again.”
Truth be told, a country that has not signed the International Bill of Human Rights, the convention relating to the Status of Refugees, International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, does not seem fit to head such a crucial panel.
Not to mention, the rich Gulf country also rejected the U.N. secretary-general's plea to scrap the death penalty, and already executed more than 130 people so far this year.
Critics also took to Twitter to condemn Faisal Trad’s appointment:
Saudi named head of top UN Human Rights panel. Seriously. What's next? A Scot to take over at Healthy Eating Watchdog?http://t.co/zPbJvmLkNp— Andrew Downie (@adowniebrazil) September 21, 2015
Saudi Arabia in a Human Rights panel?! Are they talking about how to best torture people? http://t.co/VBNa4khEg7— Nixenji (@isvec2015) September 21, 2015
This appointment also comes at a time when people are condemning the regime for sentencing Ali Mohammed al Nimr – a young man arrested at 17 for protesting illegally – the punishment of “death by crucifixion.”