Saudi Arabia: Human Rights

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, if the UK will attach (a) the need to release human rights activists and women’s rights defenders and (b) other conditions to their attendance at the upcoming G20 in Riyadh.

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what specific discussions his Department has had with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia on the release of senior political figures detained without charge in that country.

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

The UK will participate in the G20 Summit, which is likely to focus on health, the global economic recovery and wider global challenges (including climate change, trade and development). It is a key part of international planning for a sustainable recovery from coronavirus. As current G20 President, Saudi Arabia will play a vital role in coordinating the global health and economic response. We hope that the international platform provided by the G20 Presidency encourages continued progress on domestic reforms.

Our close relationship with Saudi Arabia allows us to raise our concerns about human rights, including on political detainees, in private and in public. We have expressed significant concerns about reports of continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia. We raise concerns about individual cases regularly, using a range of Ministerial and diplomatic channels, including our Embassy in Riyadh. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September. It noted our human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, regretted the continued detention of at least five women's human rights defenders, arrested in 2018, and called for the release of all political detainees. We continue to raise concerns at all levels and are monitoring the situation closely.

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