Saudi Arabia recently beheaded 47 people in a single day. It consistently ranked in the world’s top five executioners, executing over 90 people a year, and a large proportion of beheadings carried out in the country have been for non-violent offences, including protest. Yet the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the only major death penalty state to be omitted from a 20-page Foreign Office document setting out the UK’s five-year strategy to reduce the use of executions around the world. It lists China, Iran, Belarus, the US and the Caribbean as the countries where most effort should be focused but goes on to list another 25 countries that have “been identified where posts should also be working towards” reducing the use of the death penalty. Among the countries given a greater priority than the KSA are Barbados Singapore and Jordan that between them passed less than ten death sentences in 2014.
Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said, “It is shocking that the Kingdom was absent from the countries targeted by the UK’s death penalty strategy over the past five years, when every other major executioner in the world – China, Iran, Iraq, the US and Pakistan – was included.”
Amnesty International’s Head of Policy Allan Hogarth said it was “astonishing” omission “We’ve become increasingly alarmed that the UK government has been bending over backwards to avoid criticising Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record,” he said. “Ministers are always harping on about how their ‘engaged’ relationship with Riyadh means they can talk ‘frankly’ on issues like human rights, but what do these conversations actually consist of and what have they ever achieved? Apparently very little.”
Go on, tell us it is nothing to do with its oil or the money made from selling the despotic regime weapons that we treat the medieval monarchy with diplomatic kid gloves.