Jeremy Hunt must tell Saudi Arabia: “stop executing teenagers”

April 26, 2019

The Foreign Secretary is hosting his Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir, in London today, together with representatives from the UAE and United States, with the aim of brokering a peace deal to end the ongoing war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s recent mass execution of 37 people must not go unchallenged at the meeting. Three of those killed were children when their alleged crimes took place: executing them was a flagrant violation of international law.

Responding to cross-party calls in the Commons for tough action against the Saudis, Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan described the executions as “a deeply backward step… deplorable and totally unacceptable” but stopped short of saying what the Government will do to prevent the regime killing more young men arrested as teenagers for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Condemnation of the executions has been almost universal, in both houses of Parliament. Lord Collins asked: “Will the Government work with our allies to impose some form of sanctions so that the Saudis listen to our concerns over this flagrant breach of international law?”

Reprieve Deputy Director Harriet McCulloch said: “Absent meaningful action, or the threat of it, the Government’s expressions of distaste are just that – empty words. For Jeremy Hunt to look his Saudi counterpart in the eye, without making it clear that there will be consequences if the Kingdom continues to violate international law, would be abject cowardice, and undermine British policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.”