Saudi Arabia: over 50 executions "imminent"

Alyn writes calling for clemency.

As execution looms for at least 50 people on death row in jails across Saudi Arabia, including juveniles and Shi’a activists, Scottish MEP Alyn Smith has written to the Vice President of the Saudi Majlis as-Shura urging him to take all possible actions to prevent the beheadings.

Alyn met with the Vice President, Dr. Mohammed bin Amin Al Jefri, in Brussels in October where they assured each other of "a respectful dialogue based on facts". The Consultative Shoura Council is a wholly appointed body that advises the King, but is the closest the absolute monarchy has to a Parliament, Alyn grew up in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and maintains close links with the Middle East.

Alyn has also called on the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, to explore the legality of the EU-Saudi arms trade and to meantime impose a European arms embargo against the Kingdom.

Alyn said from Brussels:

“I consider myself a friend of the Saudi people, and it is that friendship that obligates me to be open and frank in my criticism of the policy of the regime. We must voice our disapproval of Saudi human rights violations, and it seems clear that a thorough examination of the legality of UK and EU arms trade with Riyadh is well overdue.

“Our appeals must not be brushed aside. The approved UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia are worth almost £4bn and must be halted while we properly consider their legality. Saudi’s human rights record speaks for itself and the UK, and EU, must not pretend beheadings, imprisonment of political dissidents and human rights activists are not happening. We have turned a blind eye to these abuses for too long, and I therefore welcome the statement on recent executions in Saudi Arabia made by Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative on the 17th of November.

“The government of Saudi Arabia is not only reported responsible for bombing of civilians in Yemen and in doing so may have contravened international humanitarian law. Saudi authorities are at this very moment preparing to execute some 52 prisoners at once, including several juveniles arrested following their participation in peaceful protests.

“According to an Amnesty International report Saudi has executed at least 175 people in the past year, at a rate of one every two days. The use of the death penalty is ghastly in all circumstances.

“It is essential that Saudi authorities support a political, peaceful response to calls for dialogue in Saudi Arabia. Turning a blind eye, and indeed aiding and abetting continued abuses will not encourage dialogue it will entrench repressive policies."