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UN, Saudi disagree over abuse of children

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has today called on Saudi Arabia to end "severe" discrimination against girls and to repeal laws that allow the stoning, amputation, flogging and execution of children, Reuters reported.

The committee's 18 independent experts examined the kingdom's record of compliance with a UN treaty protecting the rights of people under the age of 18 and raised concerns over the kingdom's violation of the treaty on the rights of children.

Head of the Saudi delegate to the committee and chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, Bandar Bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, told the body that Islamic law was above all laws and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. But the kingdom, he insisted, had the political will to protect children's rights.

Concerns were also raised by the committee over the lack of rights granted to girls and over the families of minority religious communities in the country that are persistently discriminated against in their access to schools and other state provisions.

"Traditional, religious or cultural attitudes should not be used to justify violations of their right to equality," it said.

Saudi Arabia, which tries 15 year olds as adults, was also a major point of concern for the committee as it sanctioned the execution of children.

Out of 47 people executed on 2 January – the biggest mass execution for security offences in decades, at least four were under 18 when their sentence was handed down, they said.

Saudi Arabia should "unambiguously prohibit the use of solitary confinement, life sentences on children and child attendance of public execution," the UN committee stressed.

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International OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUN
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