Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Turki Khalid al-Sudayri, head of the government’s Human Rights Organization, says that women’s issues will receive special attention from the organization and that the organization will have a special women’s division that will be concerned with all matters regarding women’s affairs and issues in our society.
He said that the office will be administered by highly qualified female Saudis and that the organization is still at the stage of being established. He added that it will be directly linked to the office of the prime minister and that its work cannot be satisfactorily carried out, in the necessary way, until the Administrative Council is formed.
He told Asharq al-Awsat that the Administrative Council will be formed in the near future and will consist of 19 full-time members, in addition to six part-time members. He added that the members will be assigned tasks and duties stipulated by the charter of the organization. Al-Sudayri went on to say that the objectives of the organization will be the same as those of the private Association for Human Rights — that is, they will deal with protecting the rights of Saudi Arabian citizens and of residents in Saudi Arabia and with putting a stop to violations and excesses against human rights in general so that (Saudi Arabia) will be in line with Islamic law and international human rights criteria in all areas.
He also said that there will be close cooperation between the organization and the private Association for Human Rights, and he added that a number of cases had been referred to the association since they were “closer to its area of competence and due to its prior experience in this sphere.” He also pointed out that the organization has received numerous requests and complaints of various types, that they have been dealt with according to the type of each case, and that some of them are still waiting to receive attention.
Al-Sudayri also told us what types of complaints the organization had received. He said: “They include complaints against some of the people who work in the public sector. The organization’s office is receiving these cases and investigating their validity and some of them will be referred to the appropriate government bodies. The organization will be following up on all the cases it receives until it gets the desired results.” He also indicated that the organization’s cooperation with government bodies is beneficial, and that there is mutual coordination with some of the ministries and government bodies that are concerned with human rights. He also said: “We will be able to do a better job of investigating the results (of these cases) after we have undertaken the formation of the organization’s (Administrative) Council.”
Al-Sudayri described cooperation with the Emirate (Province) of Riyadh as “ideal” and said that he hoped that dealings with the other government bodies would be just as smooth. He went on to say: “We cannot render judgments in advance concerning any of the cases that can be presented to the organization until all steps (and procedures) concerning the cases have been exhausted.”
In March of 2004, Saudi Arabia officially agreed to the establishment of the first non-government organization for dealing with human rights inside the country. The establishment of the National Association for Human Rights was considered to be a step in the direction of (implementing) the reforms that the state had adopted.
The text of the declaration says that the objectives of the “Human Rights Organization” are “to protect and strengthen human rights, to spread awareness of them, and to contribute toward guaranteeing that they be put into practice in light of the principles of Islamic law.” The text goes on to say that the organization will be “the government body that will have the function of expressing its opinion and providing advice concerning this matter.” It also points out: “Its head and assistant head will be appointed by royal decree. It will have at least 18 full-time members and six part-time members who are concerned with the area of human rights. All of them will be appointed by the prime minister for a period of four years, subject to renewal.”