Saudi Arabia under fire at UN over rights
KAMPALA - The Associated Press
Women are barred from driving in Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia’s rights record came under fire today at the United Nations, critics accusing the kingdom of jailing activists without due process and abusing the basic rights of Saudi women and foreign workers.
At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Britain called for abolition of the Saudi system of male guardianship for women and was joined by the United States in raising cases of forced labor imposed on migrant workers. The U.S. delegation also voiced concern at Saudi restrictions on freedoms of religion and of association, while Germany called for a moratorium on its use of the death penalty.
“Many countries have problematic records, but Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression and its failure to carry out its promises to the Human Rights Council,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement to the meeting.
Saudi Arabia, which hosts 9 million foreign workers out of a total population of 28 million, was taking all steps needed to protect their rights and provide appropriate conditions, said Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission. They included a ban on outdoor work in the heat between mid-day and 3 p.m. from June to August, when temperatures are usually higher than 40 degrees Celsius and can soar to 50 degrees.