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Saudis Behead 87 In 2014, Head UN Human Rights Panel In 2015

Brutal, repressive nations comprise more than one-fifth of the UN's Human Rights Council

Sep 22, 2015 at 2:51 PM ET

The United Nations is facing intense criticism following the revelation that it chose Saudi Arabia as the head of an influential human rights panel. The kingdom was quietly selected in June to chair the UN Human Rights Council’s five-nation Consultative Group, which appoints applicants for 75 key human rights monitors around the world. The Saudis lost a bid earlier this year to chair the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council itself.

With its penchant for executing non-violent criminals, torturing suspects and suppressing women and religious minorities, the Saudis are considered by many to have one of the world’s worst human rights record. UN Watch, a non-governmental monitoring group that first reported the appointment, called the move “scandalous,” alleging that “the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel.” Alexandra El Khazen, a representative from Reporters Without Borders, said the appointment was “outrageous” and “grotesque.”

More 16 Things That Could Get You Executed In Saudi Arabia

As the UN decision continues to elicit anger from humanitarian groups, it underscores a larger question about the global organization’s commitment to advancing human rights. More than a fifth of the 47 nations currently serving on the UN’s Human Rights Council have been accused of systematic human rights abuses, including documented cases of torture, rape and kidnappings, according to a Vocativ analysis. Nearly all of these abuses are state-sponsored or go unpunished.

Here is a list of other repressive nations with a seat at the UN’s Human Rights Council.

Algeria: Suppresses peaceful protests and labor unions. Has laws against criticizing the president and various government branches. 

China: Uses physical abuse, harassment and detention to routinely intimidate political dissidents. Represses religious minorities. Censors national media and the Internet.

Congo: Government forces continue to execute, kidnap and rape citizens without repercussion. 

Cuba: Beats, threatens and detains government critics. Controls national media. Refuses to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity. 

Pakistan: Violent attacks on religious minorities are not prosecuted. Women and girls are raped, forced into marriage and murdered through so-called “honor killings.” Has law that makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy. 

Qatar: Admits that at least 964 migrant from India, Nepal and Bangladesh died while working in the country in 2012 and 2013. Marital rape is not a crime. Arbitrary detentions remain common. 

Russia: Has laws that limit free speech and target the LGBT community. Police torture suspects with impunity. Hate crimes, committed by nationalist and white supremacist groups, go unpunished. 

United Arab Emirates: Exploits migrant workforce. Permits acts of domestic violence under the law. Routinely jails foreigners and government critics. 

Venezuela: Intimidates, censors, and prosecutes government critics. Killings committed by state security forces occur regularly. Has worst prison conditions in all of Latin America.

Vietnam: Has documented track record of child labor and forced labor. Routinely tortures and intimidates dissidents. Bans religion. Suppresses Internet freedom.