Neuer emphasized that the decision to appoint an official from a country with "arguably the worst record in the world" when it comes to freedoms for women, minorities and religion to the coveted post demonstrates that "petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights."
The head of the Geneva-based NGO watchdog added that it is simply "scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS" to head the panel, adding that the decision will undermine the Council's legitimacy. "The world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts' appointment."
"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," Neuer said.
The rights activist also criticized US and EU officials for their silence, calling on them to publically condemn the appointment and to work to reverse it, and recalling their refusal "to utter a word of protest" about the Saudis' election to the HRC itself in 2013.
Neuer's comments were echoed by Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for 'cybercrime' and 'insulting Islam'. Commenting on Trad's appointment to the panel, Haidar lamented that the appointment is "like a green light to start flogging Raif Badawi again!"
What a lovely day: Saudi Arabia 'chosen' to head key UN human rights panel! Next step #NobelPeacePrize— Leny_Thomas (@Leny_Thomas) 21 сентября 2015
'Saudi Arabia to lead key UN Human Right's panel' uhhh okay — this pic is from the UK Embassy pic.twitter.com/bwPEbI1hZf— Jamie Lawrence (@JamieLaw99) 20 сентября 2015
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Saudi Arabia over its public beheadings and floggings, restrictions on freedom of expression and religion, as well as its systemic discrimination of women.
Naming Saudi Arabia as head of the UN's human rights panel is like putting Michael Vick in charge of animal rights.— Tim (@Beertheist) 20 сентября 2015
Recently, Ali Mohammed Nimr, a protester arrested during Shiite riots in the province of Qatif in 2012, has been sentenced to "death by crucifixion," losing his final appeal. Rights activists have said that the young man, a minor upon his arrest, has already faced torture, been denied access to lawyers, and forced to sign a confession under duress.