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A Critical Issue - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The issue of human rights is a controversial one that many nations are facing today. It is an issue that is prevalent in developed and developing countries without exception, though the differences lie in the details and the criteria followed in order to come up with a vision [to tackle the issue] and in the final results.

Regarding this thorny subject, there are two international organizations that have specialized in addressing human rights issues and presenting specialized reports that reveal its naked reality and highlighted the points of danger and the required recommendations to tackle them, and in the process playing a significant hypothetical and influential role. These two organizations are Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Over time, notable differences in the way the two groups operate became obvious. Human Rights Watch had come to earn the world’s respect and appreciation for its balanced, rational and documented approach. It surprised the world by firmly condemning the acts carried out by the Israeli army during its frenzied campaign on the Gaza Strip, revealing a significant number of transgressions and violations, including the use of illegal weapons such as white phosphorus by Israel on civilians.

Recently, Amnesty International released a report that was critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The report stated that the Kingdom had committed human rights violations against a number of arrested terror-related suspects. (Amnesty International submitted figures that could not be checked or verified but it seems they were added to give the report more of a complete picture.)

The war on terror and the violations that might have been committed is new territory for all nations. This territory was previously unexplored; therefore gaining experience was inevitable through a process of trial and error.

Nevertheless, it is important to be impartial and say that the report tackled the positive developments in Saudi Arabia’s methods of dealing with terrorism as well, including the success of its rehabilitation program, and the establishment of a specialized court for handling such cases. Though this domain is fairly new to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has managed to achieve considerable success according to the testimonies of many people.

Today, the human rights file in Saudi Arabia is by no means balanced. There are many goals that need to be achieved and a plethora of errors that should be rectified.

However addressing the issue in a dramatic and provocative way does not destroy the credibility of the report, but it does raise pressing and legitimate questions about Amnesty International’s methodology.

The war on terror is a thorny and complicated issue that involves a lot of administrative and executive challenges for many countries. Nevertheless, the experience itself remains important and observing it with objectivity and impartiality continues to be crucial.

The final ruling is yet to be issued, but it is essential to view the entire matter from a more comprehensive perspective in order to achieve lasting benefits. In order for the human rights issue to be handled successfully, it has to be tackled with rationality, wisdom, honesty and interaction because it is a sensitive issue that cannot be subjected to exploitation and profiteering.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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