Publication date: 19/10/2020

ALQST organised a petition that was co-signed by 65 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) raising concerns of the egregious human rights violations committed by the Saudi authorities and asking the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to boycott the upcoming G20 leaders’ summit hosted by Saudi Arabia on 21-22 November 2020. 

The petition was unveiled at a virtual press briefing held on Monday 19 October, that featured MEPs Ernest Urtasun (Greens/European Free Alliance) and Marc Tarabella (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Lina Al Hathloul, sister of imprisoned Saudi WHRD Loujain Al Hathloul and Julia Legner, Head of Advocacy for ALQST for Human Rights. 
 
The petition recalls the unlawful detention of human rights advocates and royal family members as well as cases of torture and death in detention. It further highlights the Saudi authorities’ involvement in the war in Yemen and makes reference to resolutions passed in the European Parliament demanding accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the the arbitrarily detained and tortured women’s rights activists.

Furthermore, the petition expressed that the participation of the EU representatives at the G20 summit would not only compromise the values of the European Union, including democracy, equality and the rule of law, but also contradict the very resolutions passed in its parliament. It also asked that in the absence of genuine human rights reform the EU should not consider formalising deeper relations on trade, investment or foreign affairs with the kingdom.

“This petition, signed by 65 MEPs sends a strong signal, and we hope that the leaders of the EU’s institutions, including the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel will listen to this request” said MEP Marc Tarabella (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats).

"It would send a wrong signal for human rights if Mrs von der Leyen and Micheal decided to attend the summit as the parliament has agreed that going back to business as usual with Saudi Arabia is no longer an option” said MEP Ernest Urtasun (Greens/European Free Alliance).  
 

This petition is presented to the EU representatives just days after the European Parliament voted to downgrade its attendance at the November G20 summit in Saudi Arabia to avoid legitimising human rights violations. The urgency resolution, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority, was a joint initiative by MEPs from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group, the Renew Europe group and the Greens–European Free Alliance. It is one of the strongest political messages the institution has ever issued on Saudi Arabia and comes shortly after the two-year anniversary of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
 

“This petition adds to a growing number of recent global initiatives, including the EU resolution passed, world city mayors withdrawing from the G20 process, and Saudi Arabia failing in its bid to join the UN Human Rights Council” said  Julia Legner, ALQST’s Head of Advocacy. “Together, they show that the authorities cannot gloss over their appalling human rights record, and the only way for them to improve their image in the lead up to the G20 is to enact genuine reforms.” 

“It is incumbent on the international community to act, and take a stand for human rights in Saudi Arabia. Real reforms cannot happen without Saudi reformers themselves, who are all in jail”, said Lina Al Hathloul, sister of imprisoned Saudi WHRD Loujain Al Hathloul

In the lead up to the G20 summit, ALQST has been campaigning for governments and businesses not to turn a blind eye to the Saudi authorities’ egregious human rights violations, and urging G20 participants and governments to place human rights at the centre of all discussions.

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