Gutless government has merely told Saudi allies we’re not fans of beheading
THE British government has failed to call for a halt of the execution of 14 people in Saudi Arabia amid criticism yesterday over its relationship with the Gulf state’s head-chopping regime.
Lords were told that the Saudi despots remain an important ally for Britain and should be supported as they “keep our streets safe” from terrorist attacks.
Tory peer Baroness Goldie was responding to an urgent question from Lord Dholakia about government efforts to stop the executions.
She told the Lords that the Saudis were “aware of our position” on the death penalty and rights abuses but stopped short of saying the government had asked for the executions to be halted. The 14 are facing “imminent” death for protest-related offences according to rights group Reprieve.
Those who face beheading include at least two who were children at the time they were arrested, alongside Munir alAdam, who is partially blind. Reprieve says that the individuals were sentenced after confessions were extracted by torture and mark an escalation in executions under new crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The group has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to tell the prince “loudly and clearly” that the executions are unacceptable.
Lord Collins pointed to the recent trip to Saudi Arabia by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, during which eight people were beheaded in just one day.
“When is his government going to publicly condem the abuses of human rights? Our silence is deafening,” he said.
And Lord Singh of Wimbledon questioned the government over “billions of arms sales to the greatest human-rights abusers in the world.”
However, Baroness Goldie opined that it was a matter of striking the right balance and claimed that support for the Saudi regime “keeps us safe at home and abroad.
“Saudi Arabia can help in the fight against Daesh [Isis],” she said, as she told peers of the strategic importance of good relations with the headchoppers.
Though the House of Saud may not be directly involved, it is widely held that much of the funding for Isis and other terrorists in the region comes from Saudi Arabia.
Reprieve director Maya Foa warned: “This is an extremely worrying move from the increasingly brutal regime in Saudi Arabia.
“To execute a disabled man and a juvenile protester would be an appalling breach of international law, and world leaders cannot stand silently by and let this happen.”
Saudi Arabia executed 154 people in 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.