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UN committee tells Saudi Arabia to repeal laws allowing child stonings, executions

The report said despite gaurantees of fair trials children over 15 years are being tried as adults and can be executed in Saudi Arabia Photograph: (AFP)

WION Geneva, Switzerland Oct 07, 2016, 10.42 AM (IST)

Condemning Saudi Arabia's legal practices, a UN human rights watchdog on Friday called on the Arab nation to end its "severe" discrimination against girls. 

After reviewing the kingdom's record of compliance with a UN treaty protecting the rights of people under the age of 18, the body asked it repeal laws that allow the stoning, amputation, flogging and execution of children. 

Children over 15 years are tried as adults and can be executed, "after trials falling short of guarantees of due process and a fair trial", the report said. 

The 18-member Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed deep concern that Riyadh "still does not recognise girls as full subjects of rights and continues to severely discriminate (against) them in law and practice and to impose on them a system of male guardianship".

In response, leader of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Bandar Bin Mohammed Al-Aiban said the kingdom had the political will to protect children's rights but the Islamic sharia law was above all laws and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The experts pressed Saudi authorities to "unambiguously prohibit the use of solitary confinement, life sentences on children and child attendance of public execution".

All forms of sexual abuse against children should be a crime and perpetrators prosecuted, the experts added. 

They reported persistent discrimination against children of Shiite Muslim families and other religious minorities, deploring the use of traditional, religious and cultural attitudes to justify violations of their rights. 

Out of 47 people executed on January 2, 2016 - the biggest mass execution for security offences in decades, that included a prominent Shiite cleric, at least four were under 18 when sentenced to death, it said.

The committee also condemned the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes in Yemen, which it said had killed and maimed hundreds of children, and its "use of starvation" as a tactic in that war against Iran-backed Houthis.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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