Saudi Arabia: Human Rights Defenders

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 8th September 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

What steps the Government are taking to support human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The United Kingdom has a strong relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which allows us to have important frank discussions. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised human rights defenders with Saudi Ministers on his recent visit to Riyadh, and I have raised concerns with Dr Awwad, the head of the Saudi human rights commission, as did Lord Ahmad in June.

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

I am pleased to hear that the Minister is having robust conversations with the Saudis, but will the UK Government publicly call on the Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the five women human rights defenders who are still being detained, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sada, and for all charges to be dropped against the 13 women’s rights defenders currently on trial for peaceful protest and activism?

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

It is important that we recognise that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is taking significant steps in the right direction, and we encourage and support it to do so. The Foreign Secretary raised the release of those human rights defenders face-to-face on his visit to Riyadh just last month[This section has been corrected on 15 September 2020, column 1MC — read correction].