Saudi Arabia launches HRC International to foster dialogue on human rights

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The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) launched HRC International, a new platform dedicated to fostering engagement between the Kingdom and the international community on human rights, according to SHRC head Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad.

In a video launch published on the SHRC official Twitter page, the SHRC board chairman Dr. Al-Awwad linked the launch of the new platform to recent and ongoing reforms in the Kingdom.

“As the government forges ahead with its reform agenda, it is essential that we continue to broaden our engagement with the international community, to further promote the importance of human rights, and build an environment conducive to better cooperation. This is why I am proud to announce the establishment of HRC International, a platform under the Human Rights Commission dedicated to doing just that,” said Dr. Al-Awwad.

Reform in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has enacted major reforms under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including abolishing the religious police, granting women the right to drive, and a range of structural legal and economic reforms.

Dr. Al-Awwad described these reforms as “tremendous.”

“When you think about the amount of change that has taken place in a historically short span of time, it is tremendous across the board: economically, social-culturally, and structurally. In such a short amount of time, many items that have been pending for nearly years [have been] passed in an assertive way,” he said.

Dr. Al-Awwad was appointed by royal decree to head SHRC with the rank of minister in late August, 2019. He previously served as ambassador to Germany and as an adviser to the Crown Prince, as well as deputy governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

This week, a court in Saudi Arabia ruled in favor of a woman who was on trial for living and traveling on her own to Riyadh without her father’s permission, in a case seen as a landmark trial for women’s rights in the Kingdom.

“A historic ruling was issued today, affirming that independence of a sane, adult woman in a separate house is not a crime worthy of punishment,” tweeted Abdulrahman al-Lahim, one of the lawyers involved in the case.

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