International criticism of Saudi Arabia is on the rise as two human rights organizations have called for the oil-rich kingdom to be suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council due to its bombing campaign in Yemen.
The two groups — Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — are two of the largest and most reputable human rights organizations in the world and released a statement Wednesday accusing Saudi Arabia of “gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
The statement joins a chorus of criticism from other human rights groups and international organizations. Earlier this month, the U.N. accused Saudi Arabia of attacking schools and hospitals during and accused the country of being responsible for around 60 percent of children’s deaths during the war, killing 510 children and wounding 667 others. Saudi Arabia was added to a human rights blacklist by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for its aggression against children in Yemen, but Ki-moon quickly reversed the decision after he came under political pressure from the Saudis.
The U.S. Senate also recently took bi-partisan aim at Saudi Arabia by attempting to put restrictions on arms sales. The resolution was proposed due to reports indicating that Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen could amount to war crimes.
Saudi’s War On Yemen Is Falling ApartWorld CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin The Saudi-led bombing campaign of Yemen appears to be crumbling following the…thinkprogress.orgSince March 2015, when the the Saudi-led coalition first began airstrikes in Yemen, over 3,500 people have been killed, and over 6,200 injured, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
While rights groups consistently rank Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s worst human rights offenders, widespread and vocal criticism directed against Saudi Arabia from western, allied nations is somewhat new. The two human rights organizations mainly focused their criticisms on Saudi’s foreign policy, but also noted their domestic human rights situation is not ideal either.
“Saudi Arabia has in recent years locked up nearly its entire human rights community and sentenced peaceful dissidents to extraordinarily long prison sentences for simply exercising their rights to free expression and freedom of association,” HRW’s Middle East Researcher Adam Coogle wrote in a dispatch earlier this month. “And all this is happening despite recent bold promises of reform from the authorities.”
Forty-seven countries sit on the U.N. Human Rights council, whose job it is to investigate abuses and suggest U.N. action — though the council has no judicial authority.
“We have assessed that the Saudis have crossed a threshold,” Richard Bennett, head of Amnesty International’s U.N. office, told the Post. “They’ve done that in Yemen. They’ve done so domestically, and they’ve used their membership on the Human Rights Council to shield themselves from scrutiny. I can’t think of other members that have done that. Saudi Arabia is in a class of its own.”