Tom Brake on human rights in Saudi Arabia

Tom Brake has written a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to raise human rights issues in her meeting with Saudi Arabia.

Here is the letter:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing in advance of your visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow, to ask you to raise urgently with the regime a number of serious human rights concerns.

1. The targeting of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition
According to the United Nations, over 7,600 people have been killed and 42,000 injured since fighting began in March 2015, the majority in airstrikes led by the Saudi coalition. The conflict and a blockade imposed by the coalition have also triggered a humanitarian disaster, leaving 70% of the population in need of aid, including millions on the verge of famine.

The Saudi coalition, in contravention of humanitarian law, has repeatedly targeted civilians, including at funerals, weddings and in market places.

2. Prolific use of the death penalty
In 2016, Saudi Arabia carried out 154 executions, including 23 for non-violent crimes. Saudi Arabia remain one of only two countries in the world who still execute those who committed crimes under 18 years old.

In many cases, it is not clear that trials are fair, or that the rule of law prevails.

3. Attacks on freedom of speech
Saudi authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest, try, and convict peaceful dissidents without fair trials or due process. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists are serving long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms.

Given the accusations against your government of valuing trade above human rights, I urge you to take this opportunity to speak for Britain’s values, and defend what are universal principles.

Your desire to pursue a hard-Brexit, and the subsequent trade deals which you will desperately need, should never dampen our country’s long-standing reputation as a defender of human rights worldwide.

Your sincerely,

Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
Shadow Foreign Secretary – Liberal Democrats

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8 Comments

  • I suspect I am not the only one who finds it ironic that human rights in Saudi Arabia were atrocious throughout the coalition years and yet trade continued, including arms.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Apr '17 - 7:44am

    It is to be hoped that Theresa May will raise the case of Raif Badawi, sentenced to ten years imprisonment and a thousand lashes, just for writing a liberal blog.

  • @Steve, I am confident you are not the only one who uses any past mistakes as an excuse to ignore all current ones.

  • @Fiona
    On the contrary I think we should have cut ties with the Saudi Arabia years ago, I just don’t like hypocrisy from those who went along with it in coalition.

  • Is there any major country that doesn’t trade with Saudi Arabia? Is doing trade with Russia, China, Turkey any worse than doing trade with Saudi Arabia? Perhaps we should stop trading with America, they are killing many civilians in their bombing raids on Iraq and Yemen? Also if Tom Brake is going to bring Brexit into his argument – which he does – why not point out that the EU may make the right noises, but will basically trade with anyone who pays them.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Apr '17 - 5:50pm

    Michael Howard should not be confused with his eminent namesake. He said “Prison works” at a tory conference and meant it. Few people think so now as criminal enterprises are run from prisons using mobile phones and illegal drugs are provided using drones.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Apr '17 - 11:13pm

    Cathrine Jane Crosland is a Liberal treasure ! I brought up Raif Badawi , who I have written about several times, before , on here , just as she was thinking of him, now , I go to mention him only to discover she has above !

    The wonder of it is Tom Brake has not ?!

    A big gap in an otherwise excellent letter from an often excellent parliamentarian.

  • Bernard Aris 5th Apr '17 - 4:15pm

    The LibDems and Dutch D66 are 100% singing from the same hymn sheet on this point.
    And the interesting point about that is that the relevant D66 Foreign Affairs spokespersons in both our Commons (Sjoerd Sjoerdsma) and Senate (Petra Stiebnen) parliamentary party were Dutch diplomats in the Middle East (Gaza Strip, Egypt, pre-war Syria) before becoming politicians; they know about regional politics and what are the possibilities of influencing the Saudi’s (slight…). They have also repeatedly raised questions about cases like Mr. Badawi, and about the Rutte government using our royal family to cosy up to the Saudi’s.

    And Steve, the bitter thing in having a coalition government policy is that one coalition partner isn’t always able to block unhelpful policies being continued.
    So the Libdems and Mr. Brake have expert support in putting forward these points.

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