Human Rights in Saudi Arabia — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:47 pm on 18th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (Defence) 3:47 pm, 18th July 2019

As always, Sir Henry, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship.

I congratulate Mr Carmichael on securing this debate and on his excellent introduction to it. He rightly pointed out that Saudi Arabia is a very important nation in the region and in the Gulf area. However, as he also said, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is getting worse.

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman also told us about the many people who have been held since 4 November 2017 and tortured; some fatalities have also been recorded. He asked the Minister for a number of things to be made clear, one of which is whether the Minister would ask for proof of life of those detained, and clarification of specific charges, and like every other Member in Westminster Hall today I wait to hear the Minister’s response to that.

The right hon. Gentleman also reminded us of the urgent question that was tabled in the main Chamber of the House of Commons recently regarding the 37 executions that took place on 23 April. Many right hon. and hon. Members have told us some of the details of those executions, which are horrific, but the most important issue is that three of those who were executed—brutally executed—were still children at the time of their alleged offences. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the UK Government need to be more public in its condemnation of the Saudi Government, which was a feeling echoed by many this afternoon.

We also heard from John Howell, who always makes an excellent contribution to debates in this place. He concentrated—rightly—on human rights in Saudi Arabia, specifically on modern slavery and the abuse of women. His contribution to the debate was very important and relevant.

Then, my hon. Friend Andy Slaughter talked about Mohammed bin Salman being seen originally as a reformer, but of course we now know, having seen his regime develop, that that is not the case. There has been no contrition whatever over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. My hon. Friend mentioned arms sales to Saudi Arabia; he also mentioned that in other countries, many of those held on death row would have been seen as simply exercising their democratic rights. When will Saudi Arabia be able to do the same, and not regard those democratic rights and criticisms as crimes against the state? He also said that the United Kingdom was colluding with abuses in Saudi Arabia, and I am sure that the Minister will reply to that point.

Crispin Blunt—sorry, the hon. and gallant Member; he is not right honourable