The United Nations was criticised on Sunday after appointing a representative of Saudi Arabia to lead an influential panel charged with setting standards for human rights around the world.
The appointment of Faisal bin Hassan Trad was decried by Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger being held by the state, as well as a UN watchdog that said the decision proved that “oil continues to trump basic human rights principles.”
Badawi was arrested in 2010, and in January received the first 50 of 1,000 lashed for apostasy. He remains incarcerated in Saudi Arabia. Writing on Facebook Ensaf Haidar said that the UN decision gave the government in Riyadh the “a green light to start flogging again”.
UN Watch, a non-governmental organisation, revealed the appointment of the Saudi ambassador to the UN. Trad was elected in June to be chair the panel that oversees the UN’s Human Rights Council, with the power to select personnel for key human rights roles around the world.
UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer called Trad’s appointment “scandalous,” adding: “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."
“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons,” he said.
On Friday, Trad responded to the recent UN report on the death penalty, which called for countries to scrap the punishment. “It is imperative for us not to forget the rights of victims while listening to the calls for abrogation of the provision in the law for capital punishment in the pretext of protecting the rights of the killer,” he said.
Trad said that as an Islamic country, Saudi Arabia is committed to Sharia, which protects the rights of both the offenders and the victims.
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Samira Rahmoon, center, the wife of Lebanese TV psychic Ali Sibat who was arrested by the Saudi religious police in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November on charges of practicing witchcraft, tries to block the road with her daughter Jamal, appealing for her husband's release just months after he escaped a sentence of beheading.
A Saudi woman gets into a taxi at a mall in Riyadh, because of the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia
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A woman beheaded in the street, after she was found guilty of killing her husband's six-year-old daughter, is seen screaming her innocence. A policeman was arrested following the uploading of the footage.
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A leaked video shows three men being publicly beheaded in Saudi.
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Protesters hold a rally in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC to protest of the persecution and punishment of Saudi activist Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes simply for publishing a blog criticizing the Saudi monarchy
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Protesters simulate a flogging in front of the Saudi embassy during a demonstration against the 10-year prison sentence and 1,000 lashes of Saudi activist Raef Badawi, who received a first installment of 50 lashes and was scheduled to have 20 weekly whipping sessions until his punishment is complete.
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Saudis gather as police forces surround a mosque to hunt wanted militants, in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, after one-month amnesty, in 2004
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A Saudi driver stops in front of a billboard bearing logos of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - better known as the Saudi religious police, who enforce beliefs of the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam.
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The death penalty can be imposed for murder, rape, blasphemy, armed robbery, drug use, apostasy, adultery, and witchcraft.