Minister at Odds with Theresa May over Imminent Saudi Executions

July 17, 2017

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A UK minister condemned the use of the death penalty by Saudi Arabia today in response to questions in Parliament about the imminent execution of 14 men for protest-related offences, including a number who were children at the time of their alleged offences. The group includes a disabled man and a promising student who was just 17 when he was arrested on his way to study in the United States.

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt responded to a question from Tom Brake MP in the Commons, stating: “The UK government opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country including Saudi Arabia, especially for crimes other than the most serious and for juveniles.” He added that the government was “looking into these details and reports, including seeking urgent clarity with the Saudi authorities both in Riyadh and here in London.”

Commenting, Director of Reprieve, Maya Foa said:

“Minister Burt is right to make clear the UK’s opposition to the brutal death penalty in Saudi Arabia, but his words stand in stark contrast to the deafening silence from Theresa May on this issue. When 14 young men face imminent beheading for protest-related offences, including a disabled man and at least two who were juveniles children when they were arrested, simply raising the cases in private doesn’t cut it. The Prime Minister needs to use her visits to the kingdom and deepening ties with its leaders to promote reform, not just tout for trade. Theresa May must now pick up the phone to King Salman and the new Crown Prince, make clear that the UK opposes the beheading of children and protesters like Mujtaba and Munir, and call for an immediate halt to the 14 imminent executions.”