Together with organisations like ALQST, Global Citizen is asking for Saudi Arabian authorities to adopt the human rights recommendations issued by UN member states at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 22 January, 2024. If adopted and implemented, these recommendations could bring about significant change to human rights practices in Saudi Arabia, including releasing prisoners of conscience and abolishing the death penalty for child defendants. The kingdom has until June to accept or reject new recommendations in the open letter below.

Saudi Delegation in Geneva and Saudi Authorities in Riad,

We express deep concern about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and urge you to accept the recommendations issued by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.

The suppression of dissent, arbitrary arrests, harsh prison terms, and death sentences imposed on prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders demand urgent attention. The ongoing ill-treatment of prisoners of conscience and arbitrary travel bans for released activists, as well as the lagging reforms regarding women’s rights and migrant’s rights are alarming.

With that in mind, we kindly urge that your government seriously considers and accepts the following recommendations:

  • To bring Saudi Arabia’s legislation in line with international human rights standards and to ratify key treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its second optional protocol; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED); the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMW);
  • To redefine terrorism and reform the 2017 Law on Combating Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing and the Anti-Cybercrime Law and redefine terrorism in line with international standards to ensure the protection of freedom of expression;
  • To reform the criminal courts, respect due process and increase transparency through granting access to court procedures;
  • To protect freedoms of expression, assembly and association for civil society, human rights organisations and journalists, and to release prisoners of conscience - such as Salma al-Shehab, Mohammed al-Qahtani, and Waleed Abu al-Kheir;
  • To reform the Saudi Human Rights Commission and ensure that it abides by the Paris Principles;
  • To establish a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition, and to immediately abolish it for crimes committed as minors - including the release of Abdullah al-Derazi and Youssef al-Manasif;
  • To abolish the male guardianship system and revise discriminatory aspects of the Personal Status Law;
  • To criminalise gender-based violence and address loopholes allowing child marriage;
  • To implement legal reforms to protect domestic workers and abolish the exit visa;
  • To investigate the mass killings of migrants at the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023.

Accepting and implementing these recommendations will mark a significant step toward aligning Saudi Arabia with international human rights standards and ensuring that it cooperates with and progresses within the global community. It will also increase the global standing of Saudi Arabia as the modern, globally connected and outward looking society it wants to be.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and trust that your Government will play a vital role in advocating for positive changes during the UPR.


Global Citizens

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Call for Action: Saudi Leaders, Implement Pressing Human Rights Reforms Now