Saudi Arabia: One Year On, No Sign of Progress towards Implementation of CAT Recommendations

KSA Before CAT

In May 2016, the Committee against Torture (CAT) issued its concluding observations for Saudi Arabia in response to its second periodic report on the implementation of the Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and issued three priority recommendations, requesting the State as well as civil society to provide follow-up information about their implementation within one year .  

As part of its monitoring program it launched in May 2016, Alkarama submitted on 2 June 2017, a follow-up report on the CAT’s recommendations, regretfully concluding that none of them had been implemented by Saudi Arabia.

The CAT had recommended putting an end to all forms of corporal punishment and called for the review of the case of Ra’if Badawi. The State has not taken any steps towards the execution of this recommendation and has not expressed any intention to do so. Furthermore, in its follow-up report, the State party clarified that, as a penalty allowed for by Sharia, according to scholars in Saudi Arabia, there was no competent authority that could revoke corporal punishment.

The second recommendation emitted by the CAT concerned reprisals against human rights defenders and journalists, a practice that continued to be extensively exercised after the publication of the CAT’s concluding observations. Indeed, since May 2016, Alkarama documented six more cases of reprisals against human rights defenders.

Finally, the Committee recommended the establishment of a de facto moratorium on the execution of the death penalty as well as the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Optional Protocol. The Saudi authorities failed to comply with these recommendations and instead insisted that it only executes the death penalty as punishment for the “gravest of crimes”. However, and as demonstrated by the case of Mounir Aal Adam, documented by Alkarama in August 2016, some people continue to receive a death sentence as a mere result of their participation in peaceful protests.

“Human rights violations in the Kingdom continue unabated and regardless of the recommendations made by the Committee against Torture or the pressure of international civil society” explained Alkarama’s Gulf Regional Officer, Julia Legner. “The new crown prince Mohamad bin Salman will be judged by his commitment to respect human rights standards, improve the general human rights situation  along with, as a matter of priority, implement the recommendations issued by the Committee against Torture“.

Alkarama will continue its project of monitoring the execution of these recommendations for the next three years, until the State is required to submit its third periodic report.

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