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Human rights and Counter-terrorism: UN expert launches first mission to Saudi Arabia

GENEVA (27 April 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson will undertake an official visit to Saudi Arabia from 30 April to 4 May to gather first-hand information on initiatives in the area of counterterrorism and assess how they affect the promotion and protection of human rights.  

“I will seek to provide assistance in the implementation of the country’s 2014 Penal Law for Terrorism and its Financing, with a view to ensuring that measures taken by the Government are in compliance with international human rights standards,” says Mr. Emmerson.    

The Special Rapporteur is scheduled to have meetings with representatives of the Government, including the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, the Ministry of Justice, the Commission of Families of Victims, and the Human Rights Commission. 

He will also have discussions with law enforcement officials at police stations and prisons, as well as at the Mohammed Bin Naif Consoling and Care Centre and he will conduct confidential interviews with individuals suspected, or convicted, of terrorist crimes. 

Mr Emmerson, who visits Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Government, will also have talks with representatives of the international community, lawyers, academics, and non-governmental organizations. He will visit Riyadh and spend several days in other areas of the country, including Al Hair and Jeddah. 

At the end of his visit, on Thursday 4 May 2017 at 13:00, Mr. Emmerson will share his preliminary observations with the media during a press conference at the UN building auditorium, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh. Copies of his end of mission statement and press release will be available in English and Arabic. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists. 

The report of the Special Rapporteur will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2018. 

Mr. Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human, renewed by the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year period in December 2007, in September 2010 and again in March 2013.  

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.   

Check the UN 2006 Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy  

UN Human Rights, country page: Saudi Arabia  

For more information and media requests please contact:  

In Riyadh (during the visit): Ms. Laura Bashraheel (+966 11 488 5301 / laura.bashraheel@undp.org) 

In Geneva (before and after the visit): Mr. Sharof Azizov (+41 22 917 9748 / +41 79 444 4537 / sazizov@ohchr.org) or write to srct@ohchr.org  

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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