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Saudi Penal System

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 1:18 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 1:18 pm, 13th October 2015

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his detailed questions. Some, of course, strayed into diplomatic matters, which are not the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, but I can confirm that whenever any monarch of any country dies, the flag is flown at half-mast. It is a long-standing convention—one that has been honoured in the past and continues to be honoured.

The hon. Gentleman’s broader point about the administration of justice within Saudi Arabia was well made. We have profound concerns about the respect accorded to human rights within Saudi Arabia, but it is also the case—I must stress this—that the most effective way of ensuring that human rights progress can be made in Saudi Arabia, both for its citizens and for others, is to allow the Foreign Office to continue its diplomatic work, which balances the strong relationships built up over time with an absolute insistence that in all countries and at all times, we oppose the death penalty. We will never resile from that.