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UN panel warns about Israel, Saudi human rights violations

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian man after Friday prayers outside the occupied Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem) on February 19, 2016. (AFP)

A United Nations panel against torture has warned about violations of human rights by the Israeli regime and Saudi Arabia.

In a Friday report called "Concluding Observations", the Committee against Torture voiced concern about issues such as Israel's administrative detention of Palestinians, the excessive use of force by Israeli forces against Palestinians, the conditions of Palestinian detainees, including hunger strikes and solitary confinements, the demolition of Palestinian houses, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

Administrative detention is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows the Tel Aviv regime to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.

Over 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly incarcerated in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps, many of them without charge or trial.

Regarding the use of excessive force, the report said that some of Israeli forces’ reactions to alleged Palestinian attacks “strongly suggest unlawful killings, including possible extrajudicial executions.”

The committee also expressed concern about “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of liberty, including minors,” by the Tel Aviv regime.

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (file photo)

Saudi rights violations

In its first review of Saudi Arabia since 2002, the committee also voiced its “deep concern” over issues like torture and ill-treatment in Saudi prisons and detention centers, mistreatment of journalists and migrant workers, coerced confessions and death penalty in the kingdom.

The report further warned against “continued sentencing to and imposition of corporal punishments” by Saudi officials.

As an instance, it pointed to the case of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his writings on the internet, which Saudi authorities described as an affront to Islam.

Riyadh “should review the case of Raif Badawi with, at a minimum, a view to invalidating any aspect of his sentence involving corporal punishment,” the report said.

It also lamented the “persistence of the death penalty and the growing number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia.”

Riyadh has long been under fire at the international level for its grim human rights record.

The kingdom reportedly executed 153 individuals, including 71 foreign nationals, in 2015. Amnesty International said in a report last year that court proceedings in Saudi Arabia “fall far short” of global norms of fairness.

The Committee against Torture generally examines countries every five years or so, but it could not do so for Saudi Arabia because Riyadh's report on its compliance with the UN Convention against Torture was already four years overdue.

The committee also published its concluding observations about France, Tunisia, Turkey and the Philippines on Friday as part of regular reviews by the panel.

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