Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Supporting Dictators

In February the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopted a new anti-terrorism law that defines terrorism as words or actions deemed by the authorities to be directly or indirectly “disturbing” to public order or “destabilizing the security of society. In March, a series of decrees promulgated by the Interior Ministry extended Saudi Arabia’s extended the definition of further to include “calling for atheist thought” and “contacting any groups or individuals opposed to the Kingdom”, as well as “seeking to disrupt national unity” by calling for protests.

The UK Government is attempting to keep details of a secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public. Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen described the memorandum as a “murky deal”.

“We’d like to know what efforts are being made by UK officials to challenge and prevent abuses in Saudi Arabia’s highly abusive justice system?” she said. “This murky MoU deal was set up shortly after the Saudi Interior Ministry was granted draconian new powers to hold and interrogate terrorism suspects without a lawyer for 90 days. Have Theresa May’s officials ever asked their counterparts to scale back on these excessive powers? The UK already has a track record of selling vast quantities of arms to Saudi Arabia while remaining markedly reluctant to publicly criticise Riyadh for its atrocious human rights record. With people like the blogger Raif Badawi still languishing in jail and the teenage protester Ali al-Nimr still facing a possible execution, secret deals between the UK and Saudi leave a very bad taste.”

The UK supplies the Saudi dictatorship with weapons to fight their nasty war in Yemen and it provides a diplomatic smoke-screen to protect Saudi’s abuses of human rights. 

The Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen is to blame for a disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure in the conflict, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told the 15-member body UN Security Council. 

The UNSC failure to condemn Riyadh’s actions will only “embolden” the coalition to continue their abuses. Furthermore, HRW says that Saudi Arabian coalition has shown “no serious interest” in investigating the consequences of the strikes that NGO believes “may amount to war crimes.”

“Why is the coalition given a free pass? One possibility: follow the money,” Amy Herrmann, advocacy coordinator for Human Rights Watch(HRW) said.

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