Saudi Arabia: 4,756 Human Rights Cases in One Year
By Khalid al-Awijan
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Arabian Human Rights Commission [HRC] has
revealed that it received 4,756 complaints over the past year. The disclosure
of this information came in the HRC's annual statistical report.
The study also revealed that 24 percent of cases brought to the attention of
HRC by women were cases of domestic violence, and this comes as the HRC is
seeking to promote a pamphlet issued by Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al
Sheikh in which he discusses the issue of domestic violence.
Dr. Osman al Manea, the Director of the HRC Department of Public Relations,
told Asharq Al-Awsat that HRC president Dr. Bandar al Aiban had called for the
formation of a committee to be led by his deputy, Dr. Zeid al Hussein, to
prepare a number of lectures and workshops on Modern Islamic Studies throughout
Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with HRC Chairman Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz.
According to the data obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, 1,357 of the complaints
submitted to the HRC were submitted in writing, almost 32 percent of which have
been fully examined and are no longer active. The HRC also received more than
3,400 complaints that were submitted either in person or over the phone.
The annual statistical report issued by the Saudi Arabian Human Rights
Commission also revealed that 24 percent of all cases or complaints brought by
women were cases of domestic violence.
According to the report, there were 275 overall complaints dealing with women
and women's rights, and domestic violence constituted the largest proportion of
this figure. The official document revealed that women cited drug addiction as
a major factor behind the violence they suffered at the hands of their husbands
or family members, and that this was cited as a factor in more than 35 percent
of all domestic violence cases brought to the HRC.
According to the official document obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat; 343 complaints
made to the HRC were complaints over prisoners' rights, 227 complaints were
complaints dealing with employment, ensuring a safe working environment and
work regulations, 164 complaints were complaints about the right to judicial
and official equality, 118 complaints were related to social welfare, 73
complaints were to do with financial rights, 68 complaints were complaints over
security, and 52 complaints were with regards to health care.
Asharq Al-Awsat also learned that HRC received 47 complaints about national
identity, 46 complaints about the right to a healthy environment, 30 complaints
about the right to ownership, 28 complaints about education, 22 complaints
about freedom of movement and the right to legal representation, and 56
complaints which can be listed as miscellaneous complaints.
The official HRC document revealed that only one complaint was received about
intellectual property rights, while it received 14 complaints about the right
to freedom of marriage, and 12 complaints about protection from abuse.
The Riyadh-based HRC complaints department receives complaints anonymously and
works towards the amicable resolution of complaints, whether these are
complaints about domestic issues or issues in the workplace.
The report also revealed that the HRC department that deals with complaints by
women had resolved nearly 79 percent of the complaints that it received, and
that 37 of these cases dealt with personal issues, 15 dealt with civil issues,
65 complaints were about domestic violence, 20 complaints were about the rights
of female prisoners, 11 complaints were labour issues, in addition to 60 more
complaints that were about administrative and judicial issues.
As for the particular types of human rights complaints made to the HRC by
women, the report revealed that these include personal cases such as marital
abandonment, denial of inheritance, divorced women being prevented from seeing
their children or other abuses in custody rights, as well as general issues
with regards to divorce, removal of guardianship, or separation from husband.
The report revealed that cases of divorce or alimony were the most common
issues brought to the attention of the HRC by women.
Dr. Osman al Manea also informed Asharq Al-Awsat, "We will approach the issue
of raising awareness [of human rights] from more than one angle, and the most
important angle that we will focus on in our campaign is photos of people
trafficking, which revolves around the issue of forcing an individual to work
[against his will] or overworking employees."
According to al Manea, the HRC - which represents the governmental arm
primarily responsible for monitoring and discussing human rights issues - is
also set to utilize Quranic verses and Hadith in order to raise social
awareness in the country about human rights issues.
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