I know some people think that human rights organizations in Saudi Arabia are a joke, and sadly sometimes they are, but I don’t think these organizations are useless. That’s why I feel so disappointed when I see that the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is still doing a poor job, and that its new president Bandar al-Iban has so far proven he is not all that different from his predecessor. In today’s Arab News, he talks about how his organization helped a woman called Fatima to put her abusive husband in jail.
That’s well and good, but it is certainly not the kind of work that HRC should be doing. As a government commission with the responsibility of ensuring that other government bodies are respecting human rights they are expected to offer an organized effort on a much higher scale.
I understand that HRC is not exactly working in Sweden, but I always wish they would try harder and go the extra mile. They need not to look too far: their peers at the National Society of Human Rights have been doing a nice job with their reports and occasional statements. It is hardly enough, but at least it’s a start. Am I expecting too much of HRC? Maybe, and the reason is because I think they are in a position where they could, and should, get much more done.
Turki al-Sudairi, chairman of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), told Arab News today that his organization has handled over 10,000 complaints since it was founded three years ago. He then went on to count the other great achievements his organization has made, including the formation of a higher committee to distribute booklets on human rights to official bodies.
Did you get that? Not just any committee, that’s a higher committee who will be responsible for the enormous task of distributing booklets. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to belittle the work of HRC, but this kind of PR fluff just gets on my nerves, and a reporter like Walaa Hawari should know better. But what’s really bugging me about them is this: as a governmental organization, HRC has been given the power to question other government bodies on their abuses of human rights, but some of those bodies simply ignore HRC and continue their abuses like it’s 1994.
Apparently, HRC seem to think that they can’t do anything if other government bodies did not cooperate with them. But I think this is not the case. HRC is no less than a ministry, and if anyone thinks he is too good to deal with them they should simply report him to the Prime Minister, i.e. the King himself who signed the decree to establish this organization. People who use their positions and power to violate human rights should be held accountable for their ugly actions, and until we have an elected parliament or the Shoura Council members get some balls, this is the job of organizations like HRC.