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The United Nations CRC Calls on Saudi Arabia to immediately stop the execution of 6 minors & to abolish discrimination against girls

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-The Committee on the Rights of the Child asks Saudi Arabia to implement an ad hoc mechanism for children’s right and the complaints of its violations.

-International demands for Saudi actions to guarantee the girls’ right to citizenship and protect them from discrimination and violence.

-The Committee on the Rights of the Child calls on Saudi Arabia to take legal procedures that protects children and forbids their execution.

In a comprehensive report, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child submitted its final observations on the children’s rights situation in Saudi Arabia on the violations it exercises and provided some recommendation and that was a comment on a report that Saudi Arabia submitted late in February 2014, which combine two reports, one of them was supposed to be provided 9 years earlier (in 2005) and the second one supposed to be submitted 4 years earlier (in 2010).

Likewise, the Committee confirmed in its issued report on October 25th, 2016 that laws and legislations still don’t meet the universal standards, as for the judges who rule on a personal explanation of religion. Also, the legislations lack the children’s rights perspective. The Committee called for a comprehensive law regarding children, plus it called on Saudi Arabia to strengthen its effort aiming to build a reform and rehabilitation judicial system for juveniles in line with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The committee expressed its concern on the granting judges a discretionary power in determining adulthood, in addition to the ongoing discrimination against girls where laws still do not recognize that the girls have full rights, and dangerously continue discriminating against them in law and practice, and subject them to the male guardianship system.

Concerning the Saudi cooperation with the UN mechanisms, the committee referred that the kingdom submitted limited data in its periodic report on children’s rights what led to call for the establishment of a mechanism specialized for children and a mechanism to receive the complaints of people, including children, to investigate them and solve them.

Furthermore, the Committee called for taking immediate actions that permits the human rights defenders and all NGOs to practice their rights in the freedom of expression without being threatened or abused. It also recommended that all non-governmental organizations working in the field of children’s rights be systematically involved in the development, implementation, monitoring, evaluation of laws, policies, and programs related to children.

Also, in the case of the right to nationality, the committee was concerned that many children who are deprived of nationality due to laws that deprive women of transferring their nationalities are being discriminated in Saudi Arabia regarding school enrollment and access to justice, as well as in case of compensation for death or injury.

Regarding the right of children to express their opinions, the Committee repeated its recommendation in which Saudi Arabia shall respect the child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Also, it called for effective measures to prevent all types of discrimination based on religion or belief and to eliminate it. The committee pointed out that the priority is to clean the scholar books from all offensive contexts to religious minorities.

The Committee requested Saudi Arabia to give more priority to eliminate domestic violence and to take concrete measures to change the attitudes, traditions, customs and behavioral practices which is mostly used to justify domestic violence; especially violence against girls. The report urged to give equal legal responsibilities to mothers and fathers on their children and to abolish all the provisions that discriminate against women and affect their children negatively.

Furthermore, the Committee called for ensuring the effective implementation of the law that prevents the employment of children in domestic service. It also called upon Saudi Arabia to immediately stop detaining the street children and to release all the currently detained children; and recommended to estimate the number of street children, studies to identify the main reasons of this phenomenon, develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that all street children have access to education and medical services, in addition to take all the necessary measures to protect them.

Given that the vast majority of children with disabilities are still receiving education in separate institutions, and deprived of post-intermediate level education, the Committee recommended the state party to adopt a social approach based on human rights to disability while continuing strengthening this approach.

The Committee expressed its concern on the credible, “consistent and supported information” that confirmed that Saudi Arabia, within the framework of its military operation in Yemen, is committing serious violations for children’s rights and urged Saudi Arabia to abide its obligations in the convention to guarantee the respect of the rules of the humanitarian international law related to children in armed conflicts.

The judiciary in Saudi Arabia took a large part of the Committee’s report, as it expressed a grave concern that the children who are under fifteen years old are still being tried as adults. Moreover, it pointed out that a number of them were sentenced to death crimes they allegedly committed when they were less than eighteen years old, in trials that do not provide guarantees of either due process nor fair trials and include many violations regarding the absolute prohibition of torture.

The Committee also expressed its concern that not less than four people among the forty-seven who were executed on January 2nd, 2016, were under eighteen years old at the time of arrest or the time of the charges like Ali Al Rebh, MohamadFathe, Mustapha Abkar and Amin Al Ghamidi. Also, the Committee urged Saudi Arabia to immediately stop the executions of the individuals who were less than eighteen years when committed the alleged crime, including Ali Al Nemr, Abdullah Al Zaher, Salman Al Kuraish, Mujatba Al Suwaiket, Abdulkareem Al Hawaj and Dawod Al Marhon.

Furthermore, the Committee asked for the immediate release of children who didn’t receive a fair trial and to commute the penalty of children who are sentenced to death, in which according to international standards for juvenile justice. It also stressed the need to accelerate the amendment of legislation in order to establish a definitive ban on the imposition of the death penalty on children, in line with the obligations of the Convention.

The Committee concluded by calling upon Saudi Arabia, as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to further promote the rights of the child, to ratify the primary human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party.

Besides, the Committee which is composed of 18 independent experts submits its observation based on the information provided by Saudi Arabia in its report, as a member in the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1996.

Many organisations of the civil society have provided information on Children’s rights situation in Saudi Arabia to the international committee, including ESOHR with Reprieve organisation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the American Organisation for Democracy and Human Rights, the Global Initiative to Eliminate All forms of physical punishment of children and the Global Campaign for Equal Rights to nationality in addition to the International Child’s Rights Network.

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