On Thursday 18 July, there will be a Parliamentary debate on “Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and the detention of opponents of the regime“. It will be held in Westminster Hall, at 1:30pm.
ALQST would like your support to ensure that MPs attend the debate and call on the UK government to stand up for human rights in Saudi Arabia. If you can, please contact your MP and encourage them to attend and speak.
Ahead of this debate, we make four calls on the UK government in particular:
1) To support the UN Special Rapporteur’s call for a UN-led criminal investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
On 26 June the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary killings, Agnes Callamard, presented her report into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It concluded that Khashoggi was the “victim of a premeditated extrajudicial execution… overseen, planned and endorsed” by high-level officials including the Crown Prince. As such, the killing constitutes an “international crime” meriting international action.
Since the trial taking place in Saudi Arabia falls short of basic international standards, Ms Callamard has called for the UN to lead a criminal investigation determining individual liability. It is vital that the UK, which has expressed its desire for accountability for Khashoggi’s killing – a point emphasised at its Global Conference for Media Freedom – supports and leads such efforts, as well as reveals the findings of its own investigation, the details of the trial it is attending in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions high-level officials.
2) To support a UN Human Rights Council resolution that establishes a monitoring mechanism over the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia
It was welcome to see the joint statement signed by 36 states (including the UK) during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in March calling, inter alia, for the release of women human rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia.
This pressure had some positive effects, including the women being brought to trial and some of them being provisionally released. However, the women are still facing trial, and the human rights situation on the ground has deteriorated markedly on other fronts, including through waves of new arrests of activists, and the mass execution of 37 men.
40 human rights organisations are now calling on UN Member States to establish a mechanism to monitor ongoing human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. We envisage a resolution being implemented at the next UN Human Rights Council session in September, but it will require support from the UK.
3) To end surveillance technology and arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Following the High Court judgement on 20 June which ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are unlawful, we expect the government to take steps to halt existing arms sales and stop issuing new arms exports licences.
4) To issue public statements calling on Saudi Arabia to:
● Immediately and unconditionally release all individuals, including women human rights defenders, detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms, and to drop all charges against them
● Conduct prompt, effective and credible investigations into all allegations of torture, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide victims with effective remedy in line with international standards
● Establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with the aim of working towards its abolition
● Immediately abolish the male guardianship system, repealing laws and ending practices that discriminate against women
ALQST encourages supporters and friends to contact their MPs, encouraging them to attend and speak in this debate.