(Reprieve) – A cross-party group of senior MPs have urged Theresa May to take immediate steps to ensure UK assistance played no role in the conviction of 14 young men for protest-related offences who now imminent execution in Saudi Arabia. The group includes two who were children at the time they were alleged to have attended the protests and a disabled man.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, former leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP; former Conservative cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell MP; and Liberal Democrat spokesman, Tom Brake MP raise serious concerns that UK police training given to Saudi Arabian security forces could have led directly to the charges faced by the group.
Documents disclosed to Reprieve reveal that the UK College of Policing, which has carried out training in cyber forensics in Saudi Arabia since 2009, recognised the risk that “the skills being trained are used to identify individuals who later go on to be tortured or subjected to other human rights abuses.” The College however decided against obtaining any assurances or guarantees from the Saudi authorities.
In their letter the MPs write: “We are gravely concerned that by training Saudi agents in this way the UK may have directly enabled the arrests of the 14 individuals currently facing execution…” They go on to ask the Prime Minister to “Personally urge Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Bin Salman to halt the 14 upcoming executions.”
Commenting, Director of Reprieve Maya Foa said:
“Theresa May has been silent so far as 14 young men face imminent execution for protest-related offences. Now, there are serious concerns that the UK government was complicit in their arrest and convictions based on false confessions obtained through torture. By not speaking out against these abuses, the Prime Minister is condoning the beheadings and putting the UK’s reputation as a defender of human rights at serious risk. Instead of giving British assistance to the Saudi executioners, the Prime Minister should offer her unequivocal support to those young men facing beheading and urge the Saudi King and Crown Prince to stop these unjust executions.”
This report prepared by Reprieve.