Motor Sports: Saudi Arabia

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 20th November 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will encourage UK motorsport organisations to make their participation in the Saudi Arabian grand prix contingent on the release of (a) Loujain al-Hathloul and other women human rights defenders and (b) Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Prince Turki bin Abdullah and other political detainees.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Participation in international sports events is a matter for the relevant international sports federations, and the national representatives to these federations. These bodies operate independently of government, and enshrine this political freedom in their rules and regulations.

The UK and Saudi Arabia have a longstanding bilateral relationship, based on a number of pillars including trade; investment; defence; security; energy; and shared concerns about regional issues. No aspect of our relationship with Saudi Arabia prevents us from speaking frankly about human rights. We have expressed significant concerns about reports of continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia. The UK signed a statement at the UN Human Rights Council on 15 September, which noted our human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia and called for the release of all political detainees, including the women’s rights defenders. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, most recently raised the women's rights defenders' cases with the Saudi Ambassador to the UK on 16 November. We continue to raise concerns and are monitoring the situation closely.

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