Unite statement on Saudi Arabian human rights abuses

Ahead of G20 summit, Unite and other unions call on UK gov't to raise concerns over human rights abuses by Saudi authorities

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Unite the Union, TSSA, NEU, NASUWT and the SOR trade unions are calling on the UK government to raise serious concerns at the upcoming G20 summit in Riyadh concerning the continued human rights abuses by the Saudi authorities.

Despite the international community, including the UK, pushing for improvements to the Kingdom’s human rights record, there has been little progress.

In the two years since Saudi agents’ brutally murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, there has been no international accountability for Saudi Arabia. Instead, the Kingdom has spent billions of dollars on ‘sports washing’ their dire human rights record.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom continues its relentless assault on fundamental freedoms and human rights, including the detention and torture of human rights advocate, Loujain al-Hathloul, and other political detainees and proponents of reform in the Kingdom, such as Turki bin Abdullah and Mohammed bin Nayef.

Given the fate of Mr Khashoggi and the lack of accountability for top-level officials, the international community has a moral duty to challenge their treatment and the treatment of others still in detention.

As a leading global actor and member of the G20, the UK has an obligation to ensure that the summit is not used as diplomatic cover by host governments to deflect from their repressive policies.

We urge the UK Government to call on the Saudi authorities to ensure the immediate release of political prisoners and to respect human rights of all detainees – with those detained granted legal access, fair and transparent trials if charges can be brought and immediate release if they cannot.

Failure to meet these basic international norms should result in the use of the UK’s ‘Magnitsky’-style sanctions against Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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