Pressure is growing on the Prime Minister to condemn the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s flagrant disregard for international law and call for a halt to executions in the country, following yesterday’s mass execution of 37 people.
Three of those killed were juveniles when the crimes they were accused of committing took place. Many more were tortured into ‘confessing’ to acts of terrorism, when their true ‘crime’ was nothing more than sharing information about peaceful protests on social media.
In the House of Commons, MPs from across the political spectrum called on the Government to act to ensure that no more people are executed in Saudi Arabia for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
“I think we must condemn in the strongest possible terms, including some kind of action,” said Labour’s Ann Clywd. “Words are easy, but let’s have some kind of direct indication from the UK, we will not put up with this kind of thing.”
Conservative Crispin Blunt warned that “the accelerating pace of executions in Saudi Arabia cannot be seen in isolation from the wider criminal justice policy” and noted that “if Saudi Arabian civil society space is closed down… the security and stability of Saudi Arabia, our ally, in the end, will be the victim.”
Labour foreign policy spokesperson Fabian Hamilton MP asked questions of Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: “Will the Government condemn the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia today? Will the Government call for an immediate end to executions in Saudi Arabia? And finally, what plans does the Government have to tackle the use of violence against human rights activists in Saudi Arabia?”
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable noted that “we are in urgent need of a reappraisal of our relationship with Saudi Arabia, given the fact that the continued medieval barbarism of this regime does not constitute the basis for a friendly alliance, and indeed makes it an enemy of our values and our human rights.”
The SNP’s Stephen Gethins echoed his call. “We’ve been here rather frequently to discuss human rights violations… and we’re told that we have influence. It’s difficult to see that influence at the moment… Will [the minister] commit to come back to this House and tell us what’s been done about that relationship with Saudi Arabia?
Commenting, Reprieve’s Director Maya Foa, said: “The UK government’s silence in the face of these appalling executions is a show of moral cowardice. At least three of the individuals who were executed without notice on Tuesday were children at the time of the offences for which they were sentenced to die, and there are three more – Ali, Dawood and Abdullah – languishing on death row for the ‘crime’ of attending protests. It’s too late for the 37 men summarily executed this week, but it is not too late to save the lives of Ali, Dawood and Abdullah. The Prime Minister must intervene at once to prevent their execution.”