April Newsletter

NGOs urge governments to pressure Saudi Arabia to improve rights record following UN review

Following the adoption of Saudi Arabia’s Universal Periodic Review outcome on March 14, MENA Rights Group, Alqst, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation and OMCT called on the international community to maintain pressure on the Saudi government to improve the human rights situation in the country.

On March 14, 2019, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) formally adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcome of Saudi Arabia after the country’s human rights record was examined by UN member states on November 5, 2018. During the November review, 96 states made 258 recommendations on a wide range of topics including the death penalty, counter-terrorism legislation, freedom of expression and association, women’s rights, the ratification of international treaties and the war in Yemen.

The HRC invited Saudi Arabia to report back to the Council on which recommendations it had chosen to accept no later than the 40th session of the HRC, which began on February 25, 2019. On February 26, the Saudi government submitted its outcome report (see outcome report), in which it highlighted the 186 recommendations it had chosen to accept. On March 14, the HRC formally adopted this outcome.

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Farcical trial in Chechnya – Oyub Titiev sentenced to four years in prison

Credit: Dmitry Borko/Memorial HRC

Credit: Dmitry Borko/Memorial HRC

Earlier today, Mr Oyub Titiev, Head of the Human Rights Center Memorial’s Chechen office, was sentenced to four years in prison. The verdict follows after a clearly political trial based on trumped-up charges. Memorial, the most prominent human rights organisation in Russia, received the Right Livelihood Award in 2004 and remains under heavy pressure from authorities.

“The trial against Oyub Titiev has been a farce from day one. It’s not every day that you come across such a well-documented case of a political trial based on trumped-up charges”, says Fabiana Leibl, Head of Protection and Advocacy at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

In January 2018, the head of the Chechnya office of Memorial, Titiev, was arrested on fabricated drug possession charges and has been in pre-trial detention ever since. Today, he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. The reading of his sentence lasted more than 9 hours, with Titiev standing without a break.

Mr Titiev’s trial has been corrupted by falsified evidence and serious violations of due process and fair trial, which have demonstrated many inconsistencies in the authorities’ account of events. However, the Courts have repeatedly denied Titiev’s defences’ requests for investigations into evidence tampering.

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