Saudi Arabia

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society)

What recent assessment he has made of the strength of the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Our policy on the death penalty has not changed, and we continue to raise human rights issues with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

I am sure that the Foreign Secretary is aware that my right hon. Friend Sir Vince Cable yesterday asked the Prime Minister whether she would make an appeal for clemency on behalf of the 12 men who currently face imminent execution. Is the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister willing to do that?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We continue to make representations on all cases of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, and I will look carefully into the case the right hon. Gentleman raises. I have to be direct with him and say that, because it is connected to sharia law, we think it unlikely that Saudi Arabia will change its policy on the death penalty, so most of the interventions we make tend to be in cases where a juvenile has committed the offence, or where we do not think the offence is egregious and where we think we will have the best chance of success.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society)

The Government would have us believe that our close ties with Saudi Arabia have led to the regime behaving more humanely. Given that almost 100 Yemeni children were recently killed by Saudi airstrikes, and given the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there is very little evidence to back up that claim, so can the Foreign Secretary point to the evidence that the UK is making the Saudi regime more humane and more responsible?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Perhaps this simple fact: yesterday, 50 Houthi rebels were airlifted to Oman, which was the essential precondition for peace talks starting in Stockholm, and they may start tomorrow or on Friday.

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (Defence)

Last month, the United States imposed Magnitsky sanctions on 17 individuals accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Many of them now face the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. Of course I would not ask the Foreign Secretary to comment on any individual cases, but can he simply tell us how many of those 17 individuals accompanied Crown Prince Salman on his visit to the UK in April?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Home Office is doing a lot of work on what happened with all those 17 individuals, and there have been media reports that some of them did accompany the Crown Prince when he came to the UK. We want justice in the case of Khashoggi. It is an appalling case, and the Prime Minister made that clear to the Crown Prince when she met him in Buenos Aires. We have made it clear in my private meetings, too.