The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia affirmed that its efforts to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic took place within the framework of a human rights-based approach of two parallel tracks; combating the epidemic and limiting its spread on the one hand, and addressing its impacts or the precautionary measures taken to limit its spread on human rights on the other hand.
This came in the Kingdom's speech delivered by the head of the Human Rights Section of the Kingdom's delegation to the United Nations, Meshaal bin Ali Al-Balawi before the Human Rights Council in its 43rd session held in Geneva during the interactive dialogue the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the impact of (Covid 19) on them.
Al-Balawi said: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's laws, foremost of which is the Basic Law of Governance, combine to enhance freedom of opinion and expression while observing other rights, given that human rights are complementary, interdependent and indivisible, as stated in 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA), which is fully consistent with the relevant international standards.
He pointed out that the 8th article of the press and publishing regulation included that freedom of expression is guaranteed by the various means of publishing within the scope of legitimate and legal provisions.
With regard to disseminating information and enabling everyone to access them, Al-Balawi explained that the competent authorities in the Kingdom are publishing all information related to Covid-19 epidemic where the Ministry of Health has published and publishes a daily statistic of numbers of cases of this epidemic, its spread and all that relates to it, as well as creating a continuously updating electronic board that includes accurate details on this matter that can be accessed by everyone.
The Head of the Human Rights Section of the Kingdom’s delegation to the United Nations added that press conferences being held periodically by the Ministry of Health and other concerned parties are available to all media, as journalists are provided with the necessary protection in light of this pandemic in recognition of their vital role.
Concerning access to the Internet, he said: The number of users of the Internet represents a clear witness of the implementation of this right.
He indicated that as an extension of efforts to promote freedom of opinion and expression, many laws related to freedom of opinion and expression are currently being reviewed, in light of the Kingdom’s regulations and international human rights standards, to ensure that such regulations play their pivotal role in protecting the fundamental principles set forth in the international standards, including public health, so as not to negatively affect the enjoyment of everyone to have full right to express his views.