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By Tecola W. Hagos

I. Trafficking in Persons: Slavery

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice released the fifth annual Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report on Friday, June 3, 2005 at the State Department. The Report pointed out fourteen Countries around the world as the worst violators of human rights involving trafficking in young women and children as domestics, prostitutes, and farm hands. The hypocrisy of the Bush government is quite jarring, since only a couple of months earlier President Bush, Rice’s boss, was pictured proudly holding the bloody hands of would-be-king Abdullah, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia whose government had just beheaded eight young Somali men a month earlier on conviction of “armed  robbery” under a crude discriminatory legal system. It was the most obscene and revolting scene I have ever watched on television in my life no less traumatizing in its impact on me than the pictures of murdered mutilated bodies of tens of thousands of innocent victims in Rwanda and Bosnia. 

The State Department has identified Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirate in its 2005 Report as nations trafficking with human beings that the Secretary of State identified as no different from modern days slavery. It is to be recalled that the four Arab nations mentioned above, along with most of the other Middle East Arab nations, as well as some African nations (Egypt, Sudan, Somalia et cetera), were identified as  notorious violators of human rights with records of religious persecution of Christians and Jews, atrocities, slavery et cetera by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and several other non-profit organizations. Several thousand Ethiopians are also victims in such Arab countries where they live in virtual slavery, and some even have committed suicide as a direct consequence of the violent abuse of their “captors” or in prison.  The story of a young Ethiopian woman who killed her employee because of extreme violent abuse, and who was unjustly condemned to death is a heart-wrenching story that should be read by every Ethiopian. That is only the tip of the iceberg.

Let us not be gullible as to the real culprit of the worst human rights violations in the World it is the so-called Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hiding behind the polarizing veil of religious purity as defender of the Holy places of Islam, it has been practicing one of the worst violations of human rights for all of its independent existence since 1934. It is to be recalled that after the revolt against the Ottoman Turks in 1918 that led to the creation of Saudi Arabia by a minor Bedouin tribal chief,  Ibn Saude, in 1932 when Nejd and Hejaz became the United Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Asir was incorporated in 1934), Saudi Arabia has been a reneged nation, in disregarding international law and violating fundamental human rights, longer than any other nation in the world.  Saudi Arabia is a fictitious nation held together with an iron grip of Wahabbism, a fanatical repressive version of Islam under the control of a corrupt family rule.

When the Universal Human Rights Declaration of 1948 was debated at the United Nations in 1947-48 under the Chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt, the one delegate who was an obstacle to the proceeding was the representative of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Baroody. He was constantly interrupting the conference with outlandish remarks on human rights by promoting the idea that slavery is acceptable in some form in some countries and should not be interfered with under the new international legal regime of rights. At the Proceedings, Ambassador Baroody of Saudi Arabia was simply making speeches at the United Nations representing the racist and primitive policy of Ibn Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia. To individuals who are still naively adhering to the principle of state sovereignty, it is time to wake up to a new international reality.  There are now numerous international legal regimes dealing with all forms of human rights issues, the violations of which could lead to military actions by the members of the United Nations, as was the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia et cetera. The record of violations of principles of peremptory norms of international law and practices by the Saudi Government is numerous.

II. Expel Saudi Arabia from the United Nations

The United States Government in the Report is threatening economic sanction if the fourteen nations accused of human rights violations do not take positive steps to bring to justice those individuals involved in such illegal activities. This is the lamest “outrage” expressed by a nation that is claiming championship of human rights.  How is sanction to help those victims who are every single moment, as we speak, are suffering under some of the most inhuman conditions of work and slavery in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirate,   

I find it exceedingly akin to a joke to call such entities nations. In fact, a phrase coined by a radicalized Egyptian described those entities far more close to the truth as “Oil wells with flags.” There are numerous reasons to consider Saudi Arabia as a government of abomination. To begin with, half the population (women and girls) is under conditions of total oppression where as their movement and travel, what they could wear, with whom they can associate or communicate, et cetera is fully controlled by men.  And then there is the total lack of democratic political freedom, no accountability, with primitive legal system of mutilation and beheading. All this is done in the name of Islam. There is no truth in the idea that Islam according to the Holy Koran sanctions such forms of oppression of human beings as practiced by Saudi Arabia and its corrupted population and other Arab nations. Very many scholars including Moslem scholars repeatedly through books, articles, and interviews have pointed this out. What we are witnessing being practiced in Saudi Arabia and the other Arab nations cited in the Report is simply the acquisition of absolute power and limitless greed with mind sets that truly have medieval origins, but played out with the help of imported technical gadgets and systems of the Twentieth Century.

The governments of the World community cannot simply make sanctimonious public statements and do nothing by way of taking effective action to stop the enslavement and degradation of human beings in Arab Countries cited in the Report of the State Department. There are both treaty-based principles dealing with human rights issues and customary international law principles that provide us the legal regime to demand that the World community take steps against the Saudi Government and others for their violations of human rights.

Wherein, most importantly the link between the principle of jus cogens and “obligation Erga Omnes” is clearly acknowledged to exist by numerous scholarly writings and also decisions of the International Court of Justice. Such jurists have acknowledged the existence of correlation between “peremptory norm of international law” and the obligations that are incumbent on States, identified in legal jargon as “obligation erga omnes. For example, in the Barcelona Traction Case the International Court in a dictum stated the concept of “obligation erga omnes,” have been interpreted to imply a link between the two concepts. Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited, ICJ Reports (1970) 32, at paras. 33-34. [See also De Hoogh, Andre, Obligations Erga Omnes and International Crimes: A theoretical Inquiry into the Implementation and Enforcement of the International Responsibility of States, The Hague, London, Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1996, 55.] The cases the Court referred when discussing the concept of obligation erga omnes are also indicative of the link between the two concepts. Moreover, in a separate opinion, Judge Ammoun, one of the judges of the Court, made a direct reference to the concept of jus cogens.

Brownlie, the respected international law jurist, pointed out that “[a]part from the law of treaties the specific content of norms of this kind involves the irrelevance of protest, recognition, and acquiescence: prescription cannot purge this type of illegality...However certain position of jus cogens are the subject of general agreement, including the rules to the use of force by states, self-determination, and genocide.” [ Brownlie. 516-517.] What is pointed out here is that the principle of jus cogens deals not only with formal “treaties” but takes within its scope both procedural and substantive international general customary law. In other words, since the Saudi Government is bound by both  international treaties and customary international law and principles dealing with numerous human rights treaties, resolutions et cetera dealing with human rights including the abolition of slavery and bondage and exploitation of children, it can be held accountable to the World community for its violations of such  jus cogens principles. As a consequence of such findings of violations of international law and principles as those cited by the Reports of the State Department and other organizations, the World community has an “obligation erga omnes” to take steps against Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states for their participation in human rights violations, trafficking in persons, and exploitation of children.

Since Saudi Arabia has been an incorrigible repeat violator of international humanitarian laws, human rights norms, anti-slavery resolutions, children rights laws and principles during its entire life as a nation.  The United Nations General Assembly should expel it from membership in the United Nations, impose stiff sanction, and force it to make prompt payment of monetary compensation to all of the victims.

III. The Establishment of  Receivership and Trustship

Saudi Arabia has financed terrorism, in the region, especially in the Horn Countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan et cetera long before the 9/11 attack on the United States. It has used its wealth to spread violence, hate, religious intolerance, and Wahabbist fanaticism around the world. It is the most irresponsible country in the world no different than North  Korea for example. Since the source of all its meddling in the internal affairs of very many nations is it oil wealth, such means for such activities must be wrested from its hands by placing it in receivership. At any rate all that oil wealth should be considered as a common wealth of the people of the region, not just those who claim to own the Arab Peninsula. At any rate, the oil wealth is being siphoned off by one family illegally.

We hear in every public address President Bush gives an emphasis that the United States is on a mission to bring about democracy in the world in order to eradicate oppression. The war on Iraq, for example, was justified among other reasons as a mission to liberate the Iraqi people from the brutal and oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein.  If we are not hypocritical in our judgment of governments around the world, Saudi Arabia is even more in need of democratic reform as was done in Afghanistan and Iraq than any other country in the region. It is a dark spot on our human conscience that must be removed at all cost.  The Western World as well as the several nations in the region are dependent on Saudi Arabia for their needs of fossil oil. It is a fact that such dependency has created a kind of destructive tolerance of the many illegal and anti-people activities of the Saudi Government and its citizens.  

The way to deal with such problem was for national governments around the world to develop other sources of energy as fast as possible and to put Saudi Arabia and the other mini Arab states, mentioned in the State Department Report of 2005 on trafficking in persons, in to a trustship under the United Nations Trustship Council.  The latter option may sound too unrealistic and an act of desperation. However, desperate situations require desperate measures if we are committed to protect and guarantee the ideals and principles of democracy and international law and principles of human rights.

Tecola W. Hagos

June 4, 2005


NB: This article was written almost ten years ago and posted in www.tecolahagos.com. It is a voice of prophecy and acute observation of the State of Saudi Arabia, Its ruling autocracy, and the characteristics of Saudis. This is a nation of abominable subhuman creatures should be completely isolated from the rest of humankind and dissolved in its own oil filth. TWH