Boris Johnson has been urged to scrap plans for a post-Brexit trade accord with Saudi Arabia amid concern about the government’s mass executions.
The oil-rich autocracy executed 81 people over the weekend, thought to be the largest such killing in the country’s history.
Human rights campaigners have accused the prime minister of trying to trade “oil for blood” with the trade push – which comes while political prisoners and children are among those still facing death row.
In the House of Lords on Monday peers said plans to give Saudi traders preferential access to the City of London’s markets should not go ahead.
The country’s government says the 81 people were “terrorists” but observers say the definition used is absurdly broad.
The state SPA news agency said the accused were given the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process. Crimes ranged from from joining militant groups to holding “deviant beliefs”.
Soraya Bauwens, deputy director of campaign group Reprieve said: “Boris Johnson is trading oil for blood. Despite the Saudi Government’s claims that these executions related to terrorism charges, nearly three quarters of these 81 men were executed for non-lethal offences.
“Some were pro-democracy protesters, tortured into false confessions, whose real ‘crime’ was challenging the status quo. Many more political prisoners and child defendants on death row are at risk. “We cannot show our revulsion for Putin’s atrocities by rewarding those of Mohammed Bin Salman. Johnson must cancel his trip, condemn the killings and call for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.”
Read the full story in The Independent.