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Vision 2030: How to become a leader in human rights through legislative reforms

Bader bin Saud

Published: Updated:

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently announced a package of legislative reforms, marking a dramatic shift in the judicial and legal system. The package included 90 reforms for the country’s human rights laws, which will seek to regulate the laws and provisions of discretionary penalties, personal status, and civil transactions. Saudi Arabia will adopt the best international judicial practices while making sure that none of them contradicts the provisions of the Islamic Shariah.

Since its founding, the Kingdom has been keen to protect human rights. The founding king, King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman al-Saud, issued a historic resolution in 1952, demanding that the grievances of the people be addressed directly to him without let or hindrance, regardless of the identity of the accused. He also promised to impose severe punishments on those who violate his instructions. Saudi Arabia is one of the 36 countries, out of 197 countries in total, that fulfilled their human rights obligations. The World Bank Annual Report 2020 also named Saudi Arabia the year’s top improver based on the developments it achieved and the reformations it carried out.

A Saudi man, wearing a protective mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease, walks past a mural showing the face of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (File photo: AFP)
A Saudi man, wearing a protective mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease, walks past a mural showing the face of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (File photo: AFP)

Article 26 of the Saudi Basic Law of Governance explicitly emphasizes the protection of human rights in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Shariah. In the last quarter of 2020, an article in the enforcement law was amended to discontinue the suspension of services clause as it violates basic human rights. And in the Kingdom’s code of criminal procedure, one can find many articles affirming that the rights of arrested offenders are protected and they will not be harmed in any way. All arrested persons will be informed of the reason for their arrest and will have the right to inform whomever they choose about their situation and whereabouts. Only a concerned and keen observer knows of this legislation. Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to ratify the Minimum Age Convention, which prohibits the employment of those who are below 15 years of age.

In its mission to promote fairness, equality, and self-criticism, the Kingdom created an independent human rights commission, which went on to detect 164 human rights violations in various regions of the Kingdom and identify cases of child exploitation for fame and profit. Also, the Kingdom abolished the death penalty for minors right after it ended the practice of flogging as a discretionary penalty, replacing both with jail time, fines, or other alternative penalties.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, 61 percent of the world’s states failed to protect human rights. The Western fantasies that call for the absolute safeguarding of these rights were dispelled by reality. Italy denied access to hospitals for anyone who is over 80 years old while the British government adopted the Darwinism approach of natural selection, leaving Covid-19 patients to face their grim fates without assistance. In contrast, Saudi Arabia provided free treatment for all Covid-19 patients, from citizens and residents to violators of the labor law and residence regulations.

A Saudi woman waits to get a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Riyadh. (Reuters)
A Saudi woman waits to get a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Riyadh. (Reuters)

According to new statistics, 150 million people are going to suffer poverty and harsh living conditions in 2021; however, and indeed naturally, the people in Saudi Arabia will not be among them as one of the strategic objectives of Vision 2030 is for the Kingdom to become an international leader in the field of human rights.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the Saudi Arabian outlet al-Riyadh.

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