Saudi talks up human rights efforts

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Saudi women face a number of curbs on daily life.

Saudi women face a number of curbs on daily life.

A senior official in Saudi Arabia has said that the Gulf kingdom has strengthened its approach to human rights through recent laws and regulations.

In an interview with Arab News, the conservative state’s Human Rights Commission chief Bandar Al-Iban said that Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to preserve and protect human rights as per Islamic teachings.

“[Saudi Arabia] has paid attention to achieving comprehensive and sustainable development in order to raise the standard of living and ensure the prosperity and stability for citizens and residents and promote and preserve their rights,” he was quoted as saying.

“The Kingdom has boosted its protection capabilities by enacting legislation and issuing regulations to protect human rights and exercise justice and monitor any abuse and violations,” Al-Iban added.

Al-Iban also claimed that the topic of human rights was increasingly coming under debate in the Arab world.

“Do not be surprised by the attention given to human rights in the Arab world. It seems this interest is evident by the increase by Arab countries participating in human rights discussions in the international arena as well as the ratification of agreements and treaties on human rights issued by the United Nations or issued by the regional organisations, such as the Islamic Conference Organisation which issued the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the Arab League which issued the Arab Charter of Human Rights,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has faced staunch criticism for its human rights record in the past.

According to lobbyist group Human Rights Watch, “Saudi Arabia struggles with a poorly defined and nontransparent justice system based on religion that metes out draconian sentences”.

The organisation’s website also highlights alleged discrimination and women and Shia Muslims, as well as labour restrictions that “facilitate widespread abuse”.

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