National Society for Human Rights

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National Society for Human Rights

الجمعية الوطنية لحقوق الانسان
PurposeHuman Rights
Region served
Saudi Arabia
Mufleh bin Rabayan al-Qahtani[2]
AffiliationsSaudi government[3][4]

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) is a Saudi Arabian human rights organisation closely associated with and funded by the Saudi government.[3][4] It was established on 10 March 2004,[5][1] two years after the Human Rights First Society applied unsuccessfully for a licence. As of August 2018, the President of the NSHR was Mufleh bin Rabayan al-Qahtani.[2]


In March 2004,[5][1] several citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia established the National Society for Human Rights based on the following aims:

  • The importance of human rights in social life.
  • The great challenges that face the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, both locally and internationally.
  • The desire for patriotic participation in facing challenges, arriving at the truth, identifying the weaknesses, and aiding in handling them.
  • Aiding the State in achieving justice and fighting oppression.
  • Defending the application of the Islamic Laws (Shariah).[6]

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. described the NSHR as the "first independent human rights organization in Saudi Arabia".[1] Human Rights First Society was created two years earlier, in 2002, and denied a licence to exist formally.[4]


The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) implements[citation needed] the international human rights charters signed by Saudi Arabia, and it also includes a special panel to monitor violations of women's rights. According to its resolution, the Society seeks to protect human rights and preserve human dignity as ordered by Allah, Most Powerful, in the Qur’an: "And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam".[7] It seeks to support the rights of citizens, to monitor and pursue their rights as established and recognized by Islamic Sharia law and applicable regulations, and seeks to protect citizens from possible violations, abuses, and breaches of those rights. It also seeks to contribute to international efforts and worldwide cooperation aimed at preserving human rights.[8] The main office is in Riyadh, but it also has four other branches in Saudi Arabia, located in Jeddah, Makkah, Jizan, and East Province, and it is working to open a fifth branch in Aljouf. The Society initially consisted of 41 founding members, six of whom are women.[5]

The objectives of the Society are as follows:

  1. To endeavor to protect the human rights according to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is based on the Quran and the teachings of Mohammad and in accordance with applied regulations, along with the Declarations and Covenants of Human Rights issued by the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the United Nations and its agencies and specialized committees, so long as they do not contradict with Islamic Shariah (Islamic Laws).
  2. To cooperate with the international organizations working in the same field.
  3. To stand against injustice, abuse, violence, torture, and intolerance[9][10]

The Society's income is generated from publications, bulletins, and revenue generated from symposia and fairs. Moreover, revenues are generated from property investments. In addition, the Society accepts gifts, testaments, Awqaf (endowments), grants, and other resources that do not contradict with the objectives of the Society.[10]

Preferred actions[edit]

The actions that the NSHR aims to carry out include:

  • To ensure the enforcement of rules of the Constitution and the internal regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pertaining to human rights.
  • To ensure the fulfillment of the obligation of the Kingdom concerning issues of human rights, according to the contents of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, the charter of the United Nations, and international covenants and documents of human rights.
  • To receive complaints and grievances, follow them up with competent entities, and to verify claims regarding violations and abuses of human rights.
  • To present views and proposals to governmental and non-governmental bodies for teaching and dissemination of information in the field of human rights.
  • To handle human rights issues dealt with by international bodies, in general, and by non-governmental international organizations, in particular.
  • To study international covenants and documents of international human rights and their applications.
  • To conduct international, regional, and local conferences, symposia, and courses pertaining to human rights.
  • To encourage regional and international cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • To publish specialized publications and releases on human rights.[9]



The bodies of the Society includes:

  1. The General Assembly.
  2. The Executive Council.
  3. The President of the Society.
  4. Two Vice Presidents of the Society.
  5. Secretary General of the Society.[5]

Executive Council[edit]

The Executive Council of the NSHR consists of nine members including the President and the Vice Presidents. The membership period of the Council is four years subject to renewal. In case a vacancy occurs for any reason, a replacement shall be assigned by a decision of the General Assembly to fill such vacancy, in order to complete the period of his predecessor.[9] The Executive Council manages the work of the Society in a manner that achieves the goals for which the Society was established as provided for in the Constitution. In particular, the Executive Council may carry out the following:

  1. To suggest amending the Constitution of the Society.
  2. To propose internal regulations.
  3. To suggest the approval of the final accounts in view of the report of the Comptroller.
  4. To study the annual budget, the income and expenditure accounts, and any other statements pertaining to the financial status of the Society.
  5. To set up permanent and interim committees.
  6. To use the help of experts and advisors at its own discretion.
  7. To study the annual reports prepared by the President of the Society.
  8. Any other tasks entrusted to it by the General Assembly.[5]

The Committees of the Society[edit]

The Monitor and Follow Up Committee;

  1. To monitor and follow up work pertaining to the achievement of the Society goals, to receive grievances and complaints, and to verify claims of violations and abuse of regulations.
  2. Studies and Consultations Committee; to undertake studies and provide consultations regarding documents, regulations, and procedures in the field of human rights.
  3. Culture and Publication Committee; to raise awareness, conduct symposia and conferences, and disseminate information regarding human rights.
  4. Family Committee, for family affairs.[10]


According to NSHR statutes, the president of NSHR can do the following:

  • To manage the affairs of the Society.
  • To preside over the meetings of the General Assembly and the Executive Council.
  • To represent the Society before judicial authorities, international organizations, and other parties.
  • To sign the decisions and contracts of the Society.
  • To pursue the implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly and the Executive Council.[10]

Bandr Hajjar was the NSHR president in 2002[4] and Mufleh bin Rabayan al-Qahtani was the president in August 2018.[2]


NHSR issues periodic reports on the progress of human rights in Saudi Arabia. It publishes a monthly bulletin called Hogog, which means Rights. So far NSHR has published five reports. The first report was on human rights in Saudi Arabia in 2006 and is a 60-page publication. This report addresses many issues including women's rights, security and civil liberties, educational rights, children's rights, prisoners’ rights, and the rights of foreign labourers.[11] The next publication was a collection of essays written about that first report. Two other publications are studies on how compatible Saudi regulations are with basic human rights agreements. The fifth publication was a report on the violations of human rights in Guantanamo Bay such as torture and the general mistreatment of Saudi prisoners. These include being left with no food for more than 18 hours, and insulting religious symbols such as by urinating on the Qur’an. It mentions the killing of a couple of Saudis, whom the American government claimed to have committed suicide but the inspection group who examined the corpses said that the cause of death had not been suicide.[11]


The Society has dealt with more than 6,500 issues so far. Of these, 434 were about family violations where 205 issues came from the Makkah branch, 109 from Jizan, 68 from Riyadh, and 43 from East Province. In 2006 the total number of issues was 1,111, of which family issues count for 24%; the other issues include labour, finance, asking for citizenship, and other unclassified issues. Moreover, the Society has visited 22 prisons all around the Kingdom and is following prisoner matters through the judicial and executive institutions. NSHR has undertaken unannounced visits to care homes in order to ensure that the elderly residents are receiving good treatment and that the level of hygiene is high. The Society is also cooperating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in regard to human rights generally and to family violations in particular. The Society has also delivered several lectures on human rights. Furthermore, there is a website where the public can view the issues that the Society deals with, or where they can present their own issues. NSHR has instituted a commission with regard to the Saudi prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and presses for the accused to be either released or put on trial. The total number of Saudi prisoners in Guantanamo used to be 130 but 117 were released on 10 November 2007, and currently 23 remain imprisoned. NSHR also communicates with other international human rights organization to put pressure on the American government to close the prison.[12]

Support for Saudi government[edit]

The August 2018 diplomatic dispute with Canada started when Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland's called on 2 August 2018 in a tweet for Saudi human rights activists Samar Badawi and Raif Badawi to be released from prison.[13] The Saudi government responded with punitive actions against Canada. NSHR stated its support for the Saudi governmental response. The head of the NHSR, Mufleh bin Rabayan al-Qahtani, stated to the Saudi Press Agency that the tweet transgressed international norms and Saudi sovereignty.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d First independent human rights organization in Saudi Arabia Archived November 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d "The National Society for Human Rights in kingdom: Canadian position transgresses international norms, sovereignty". Saudi Press Agency. 7 August 2018. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Saudi polls, aid sweeteners not enough: activists". Karavali Times. 24 March 2011. Archived from the original on 24 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "2008 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". United States State Department. 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 25 March 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e Founders Archived July 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Idea of Establishment[dead link]
  7. ^ "حقوق الإنسان في السعودية". Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  8. ^ Resolution[dead link]
  9. ^ a b c "Charter of the National Society for Human Rights". National Society for Human Rights. March 2011. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d The Constitution of The National Society for Human Rights
  11. ^ a b تقارير Archived September 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "لجنة غوانتانامو" تعمل على التواصل مع المنظمات الحقوقية للضغط على الحكومة الأمريكية[dead link]
  13. ^ Jon Gambrell (5 August 2018). "Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, freezes trade in human rights dispute". Toronto Star. The Associated Press. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.

External links[edit]