Outcry after Saudi Arabia appointed to head UN human rights panel

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Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive and homophobic countries, will chair a UN panel on human rights.

The Saudi kingdom is is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, with gay people facing the death penalty, women facing legal discrimination, and extreme curbs on free speech.

However, despite its poor rights record, the United Nations elected Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Faisal bin Hassan Trad to chair the UN Human Rights Council’s panel of ‘experts’ this week.

Campaign group UN Watch attacked the “scandalous” appointment, saying: “Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi.”

“It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia is a member of the council, but for the UN to go and name the regime as chair of a key panel only pours salt in the wounds for dissidents languishing in Saudi prisons.”

There are no legal protections for LGBT people in Saudi Arabia, and Britain and the US have often been criticised for being close to the oil-rich nation where gay people are stoned to death.

Women are not granted the vote, and are unable to drive in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, leaders across the world came under fire for paying tribute to late Saudi monarch King Abdullah, who passed away in January.

After David Cameron paid tribute to the leader, he came under attack from former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who tweeted “F**K YOU” at her former boss.

Concerns were raised in during a state visit to the UK by the late King in 2007 about the treatment of women and gay people in the Saudi kingdom.