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Will we or won’t we?

Will we or won’t we?

Eman Al Nafjan, Saudi blogger, asks whether we will see an uprising in the kingdom. Her view? ‘We are still on the train heading to revolution town.’

March 1, 2011 4:34 by

Fourth: The implementation of the principle of administrative decentralization and the empowerment of local administrations in the regions and provinces of all authorities necessary for the establishment of effective and interactive local governance that are able to directly address the demands of citizens in each region.

Fifth: The independence of the judiciary; the abolition of all bodies that play parallel roles outside the framework of the judicial system. The courts’ supervision over the investigation and the prosecution of defendants and the conditions of prisoners. The abolition of regulations that limit the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary, limit the immunity of judges, or fall within the jurisdiction of the judiciary. The acceleration of the codification and standardization of laws and judicial sentences while taking into consideration what our government has committed to by signing on to conventions of international human rights. All of this ensures justice, equality and discipline in the application of laws. The activation of a law of criminal procedure and a system of pleadings to achieve the above, and to prevent any action outside or in violation of the judicial process.

Sixth: Implementing the system by which civil associations are legalized, as was passed the Shura Council. Opening the door to the establishment of institutions of civil society in all its forms and purposes, as a channel to rationalize and embody public opinion, and activate public participation in decision-making.

Seventh: Despite the widening debate on the rights of Saudi women, the government has not taken sufficient action to fulfill the requirements of this file. The neglect of women’s rights or postponement contributes to deepening the problem of poverty and violence, and weakens the contribution of the family in raising the level of education. Legal and institutional action must be taken to enable women to attain their rights and ownership in learning, employment and participation in public affairs, without discrimination.

Eighth: The issuance of laws that prohibit discrimination among citizens, for any reason and under any pretext, and criminalize the exercise of any discrimination along sectarian, tribal, regional, or racial lines. Also the criminalization of hatred on religious grounds or others. And the development of a national integration strategy that explicitly recognizes and respects multiculturalism in Saudi society and considers it a source of enrichment for national unity and social peace. We need an effective strategy to address the situation of the national integration of minorities who have been exposed to exclusion and marginalization or impairment of rights due to any of the above reasons, and to compensate them for what they have been subjected to in the past.

Ninth: The decision by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to approve the formation of a human rights body, the National Assembly for Human Rights was greeted with optimism. But we find now that both the Commission for Human Rights and the Assembly had transformed themselves into bureaucractic factions controlled by the government. They have shown only a limited role in the defense of the rights of citizens .Among the reasons for their decline is government interference in the appointment of their members, as well as the refusal of many government agencies to recognize them. The top priority for any government and society must be the maintenance and protection of the rights and dignity of citizens and residents. We therefore call for the abolition of government restrictions imposed on the commission and the assembly, and the assurance of their independence under the law. We also call for the legislation for the right to form other associations for the civil defense of human rights.

Tenth: No dignity without a decent living. God has blessed our country with many riches, but a large segment of our citizens complain of poverty and lack of resources. We have noted the government’s delay in treating the unemployment problem, lack of housing, and the poor standard of living, particularly in rural areas, suburbs and for the retired and the elderly. We do not see a justification for failing to develop solutions to these problems. We believe that not to put these issues to public debate, and to overlook the private sector’s and civil societies’ roles is a grave mistake. When such issues come up they are considered purely through a business profit and loss perspective. Thus they have gradually turned from problems to dilemmas, and have become one of the main reasons for the humiliation and degradation of citizens.

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