Saudi Arabia: Saudi government invites Human Rights Watch to visit

Khaleej Times
Saudi Arabia, which is strengthening human rights and initiating appropriate reforms and regulations, has invited members of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on a week-long visit to the Kingdom.
Zuhair Al Harithy, spokesman for the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), said that the HRW has been invited to the Kingdom by the Saudi government to discuss with officials four reports that the body has prepared on the Kingdom's justice system, domestic workers, women and children.
He said that the HRW team has met representatives of four Saudi ministries at the Riyadh headquarters of the HRC since Saturday.

The five-member HRW team includes Farida Deif and Nisha Varia, who are from the HRW's women's rights department and a researcher on children's rights.

Al Harithy said the Saudi government rights body welcomes visits by international human rights organisations.

“It gives us a chance to discuss with them their reports and clarify mistakes, and at the same time learn from what is mentioned in them,” he said.

He said that the HRC's role in these meetings is to act as a mediator. He added that the HRW was now obliged to include the response of Saudi officials in forthcoming reports.

“People reading the reports will be able to make up their own mind after knowing both sides of the story,” he said.

Al Harithy further elaborated that ministry officials have been receptive to dialogue “and were open to constructive criticism.”

12 March 2008