International human rights activists unanimously agreed that Saudi Arabia reforms are nowhere to be found, and human rights are widely violated.
This came during a seminar held by Skyline International, with the participation of Susan Koebel, a journalist at DER SPIEGEL and author of the book The Kingdom’s Veil, the Saudi activist Hala Al-Dossary.
The symposium aimed to shed light on the human rights reality in Saudi Arabia in light of the reform policy promoted by the Kingdom during the last period.
Suzanne said she visited the Kingdom in the past decade when the royal family’s reforms began in Saudi society.
She described the new reforms and openness as a profound transformation in Saudi society and not just superficial reforms.
In her view, these reforms focused on the Kingdom’s economic aspects while ignoring concerns of human rights violations or other growing social and political demands.
Propagating reforms in Saudi Arabia
Al-Dossari highlighted that the current regime during the reign of King Salman and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to portray itself as the sole promoter of these reforms. At the same time, the facts indicate that these reforms began before they came to power.
She stated that these reforms are taking place because more and more Saudis are losing their fear of raising their voices.
Both Al-Dossary and Kobel described the country as heading to a critical point where the current crown prince had successfully promoted a culture of fear.
They stressed the need for the Saudi authorities to stop the policy of harassment and persecution in their dealings with activists and individuals and to implement the rules of international law that guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression and physical integrity.
They called for the international community to exercise its influential role in pressuring the Saudi authorities to stop their practices that violate human rights.
Human Rights Watch said that the ongoing repression and the absence of civil society inside Saudi Arabia are significant obstacles to achieving development and progress in the Kingdom.
The organization highlighted that the suppression of independent civil society and critical voices that could provide objective responses reduces the chances of success of the reform efforts recently announced by Saudi Arabia.
It indicated that the Saudi authorities released some arbitrarily detained opponents and activists, including the two women’s rights activists Loujain Al-Hathloul and Nouf Abdel Aziz.
“However, they are still subject to restrictions that impede their ability to speak openly without fear of reprisal.”
HRW confirmed that there are prominent clerics, intellectuals, academics and human rights activists detained since 2017.
“The authorities’ arbitrary and abusive targeting of opponents and activists, and the absence of full accountability for those responsible for the arrests and torture, show that the rule of law in the Kingdom is weak and that the Saudi leadership undermines it whenever it wants.”