To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the state of freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia; whether they have raised with the government of Saudi Arabia the sentence of 1,000 lashes against Raif Badawi; and whether the European Commission has made any representations in the case of Raif Badawi.
The UK is a strong supporter of freedom of expression around the world. We believe that people must be allowed to freely discuss and debate issues, peacefully challenge their governments, exercise the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and speak out against violations of human rights wherever they occur. We have raised a range of human rights issues with the Saudi authorities including the right to freedom of expression. We are seriously concerned by Raif Badawi’s case. The UK condemns the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment in all circumstances. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon.Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), has raised the matter with the Saudi Ambassador. We have previously raised the case at a senior level with the Saudi authorities. Our embassy in Riyadh has supported two EU demarches on the Saudi government about this case.