By Mohammad Ali Saki

G20 interests override Saudi rights violations: Canadian lawyer

December 2, 2020 - 11:33

TEHRAN - Edward C. Corrigan, a Canadian analyst, and the lawyer believes that Baroness Kennedy’s report about the condition of women's rights activists is a critical step in revealing “human rights violations and suppression of dissent” in Saudi Arabia. 

British human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy released a report about the conditions of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia. According to the report, “Saudi interrogators forced jailed women's rights activists to perform sex acts, hung them from ceilings and 'tortured' them with electric shocks.”

To know more about different aspects of this story, we reached out to Edward C. Corrigan, who is a lawyer certified by the Ontario Law Society as a specialist in Citizenship and Immigration Law and Immigration and Refugee law.
The following is the full text of the interview with Corrigan:

Q: What is your thought on Baroness Kennedy’s report about the condition of women's rights activists in the Saudi Kingdom? 

A: Baroness Kennedy’s 40-page report, titled 'A Stain on World Leaders and the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia: The shameful detention and torture of Saudi women,’ documented numerous human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. She called on G20 states to boycott the 2020 summit, hosted by the Kingdom unless the women human rights activists and other political detainees are set free. Unfortunately, the members of the G20 chose not to boycott the Summit which proceeded virtually due to COVID-19.

In my view, Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records in the World. In May 2018 Saudi Arabia’s notorious prohibition on women driving was lifted by Royal Decree. Just weeks before the Decree no less than 10 human rights activists who had successfully campaigned for the change were detained by the Saudi authorities. In June and July 2018 another nine women were arrested. Most of the Women’s Rights Activists are female, though some are male. All human rights activists had a longstanding commitment to improving the position of women in Saudi society through the exercise of their democratic rights.

“Economic and strategic interests override concerns over human rights. If the country bows to Western demands human rights problems are usually ignored.”Speaking at the launch of her report, Baroness Kennedy said: “None of these would amount to crimes in any decent nation, and that is the problem. This is an unacceptable abuse of human beings.”
Baroness Kennedy said Saudi Arabia was in breach of numerous human rights agreements and treaties it had signed up to by its treatment of women whose charges included driving cars, campaigning for a new political system in Saudi Arabia, talking to British journalists for a documentary. One of the charges included applying for a job at the UN.

Baroness Kennedy said the women were forced to kiss their captors, perform sex acts on their tormentors, and forced to watch pornography. 
The release of Baroness Kennedy’s report is a major step in helping shine the spotlight on the human rights violations and suppression of dissent in the Kingdom.
Q: How do you assess the reaction of international organizations to human rights violations by Saudi Arabia?

A: A UN women's rights committee has called for the release of the women detainees. Saudi Arabia also recently lost an election to the UN Human Rights Committee. Other organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have strongly condemned Saudi Arabia for its flagrant human rights violations. However, much more needs to be done by international organizations. 

Q: Why did not the G20 countries boycott the Saudi hosting of the G20 summit?

A: There has been very little pressure put on Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record. Baroness Kennedy called on the UK not to attend the G20. Ironically one of the Summit’s themes was female empowerment. The Baroness said: 'Just because people are your trading partners should not permit this kind of license to abuse human beings.” She added, “I want to call upon those who are going to be participating in the G20 meeting to say: 'We will only participate in this meeting being hosted by the crown prince, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, it will only take place if you release these women.” 

Unfortunately, the G20 members did not heed this call. Financial and strategic interests trumped concern over human rights. The lack of serious consequences over the Saudi’s brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is just one example.

Q: Why do Western countries support monarchical Arab regimes?

A: Western countries support the conservative feudal Arab regimes because they are weak and are afraid of their own people. For this reason, the Arab monarchies are dependent on Western power and are subservient to Western demands. Many of the feudal regimes host American or British military bases which help the West dominate the region. Economic and strategic interests override concerns over human rights. If the country bows to Western demands human rights problems are usually ignored. However, if the country pursues an independent path then the West uses real, or even made up, violations of human rights as a pretext to subject it to sanctions and even to attack and invade the countries that do not submit to Western edicts.



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