Saudi Arabia: Execution of Hussein Abo al-Kheir - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:01 pm on 16th March 2023.

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Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 2:01 pm, 16th March 2023

I thank the Minister for repeating the response to the Urgent Question, and I am fully aware of all the efforts he has personally made. It is a shocking case. This is a 57 year-old father of eight who did not face a fair trial and who was tortured in jail, so the evidence goes. My right honourable friend Stephen Timms asked in the other place this morning whether the Foreign Secretary had raised this case with the Saudi authorities. The response from Leo Docherty, as we have heard, was a generalised one, saying that the Saudis know our position on the death penalty and that our position is clear. He also confused the issue slightly by saying that the moratorium on the death penalty for drugs cases was about people who were users and not particularly related to this case; he corrected himself later on.

I ask the Minister the specific question that my right honourable friend Stephen Timms asked: did the Foreign Secretary make specific representations to halt the execution and if not, why not? We know that high-level interventions can have an impact. In 2015, when David Cameron and the then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond publicly called on the Saudi authorities to prevent the execution of Ali al-Nimr, that execution was halted. I respect what the noble Lord has been trying to do as an individual Minister, but I hope he can answer my specific question.