‘Britain ignores basic human rights values by supporting repressive Saudi regime’
A British charity has slammed the government for ignoring its basic human rights values by supporting the Saudi regime’s prison system as well as its inhuman and unjust sentences.
Charity “Reprieve” has expressed shock over London’s support to Riyadh despite the latter’s plans to crucify Ali Mohammed al-Nimr for alleged anti-regime offences.
“It is extremely worrying to see the British government abdicating its basic human rights values in the interests of cozying up to the Saudis. British complicity in gross abuses such as these is unacceptable and has to stop,” Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said.
Ali al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 when he was just 17, during a crackdown on anti-government protests in eastern Qatif province. He was accused of participation in illegal protests and carrying firearms which Ali and his family have strongly denied. He was later sentenced to death by crucifixion on hosts of charges including insulting the Saudi monarch.
“No one should have to go through the ordeal Ali has suffered – torture, forced ‘confession,’ and an unfair, secret trial process, resulting in a sentence of death by ‘crucifixion”, Reprieve’s Foa said.
According to human rights activists, the Saudi regime’s insistence on framing the case against Ali appeared to be based on his familial connection to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime and a prominent Shia religious leader who was also jailed and has been sentenced to death.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly sentenced 26 people to death on such charges as giving speeches critical of the Al Saud and participating in protests against the ruling family. Earlier this week, a Saudi court dismissed the final appeal by Ali against his sentence to death by crucifixion.
Reprieve has urged the European Union to pressure Saudi Arabia to prevent the killings. The charity is, particularly, critical to Britain for its silence on grave violation of human rights in Saudi Arabia. “It is hard to see what British interests are strong enough to trump the principle that we should not be supporting the ‘crucifixion’ of juveniles.”
In a statement on its website, Reprieve has asked the British government to backtrack on its claim that the bid to service Saudi prisons could not be cancelled because to do so would incur “financial penalties.”
The UK has maintained strong relations with repressive regimes such as Al Saudi of Saudi Arabia and Al Khalifah of Bahrain despite their violent ongoing crackdown on their people. The UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, particularly, has been cited beyond selling lethal weapons.
Recently, Oxfam UK noted that the British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have intensified since Riyadh launched a war on its impoverished neighbor Yemen in late March. The charity said the UK arms are causing humanitarian catastrophe across Yemen, potentially placing London in breach of international law.