EU must not whitewash human rights meeting with Saudi Arabia: Amnesty

EU must not whitewash human rights meeting with Saudi Arabia: Amnesty
The EU-Saudi meeting aims to address human rights issues in the kingdom.
2 min read
27 September, 2021
Amnesty International have strongly advocated for women's rights in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Amnesty International has called on European Union leaders to hold Saudi Arabia to account for human rights abuses and a campaign to silence critics, ahead of the first EU-Saudi meeting on Monday. 

The rights group urged the EU to draw attention to the crucial role of Saudi civil society and their struggle against arbitrary detentions, prosecutions, and other forms of oppressive actions that impede their human rights work and violates fundamental rights.

"The EU must use this opportunity to ask tough questions of Saudi Arabian authorities on their human rights abuses, and not let them whitewash their atrocious record. The authorities put executions and punitive trials on hold during the Saudi presidency of the G20 last year, but they were quickly resumed once the spotlight was off," Director of Amnesty International's EU Office Eve Geddie said. 

"The EU needs to publicly speak out for human rights defenders and against the government's crackdown on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia." 

Hosted by the EU, the meeting aims to address human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty has previously called out the EU for prioritising its close relationship with Riyadh, given its economic and geostrategic importance to Europe. 

The advocacy group said Europe was putting aside issues which "highlighted a glaring inconsistency" and undermines its global human rights policies. 

"Human rights defenders arbitrarily detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia must all be immediately freed, and the EU must be robust in its defence of these brave individuals, who are defending the rights of everybody in Saudi Arabia," Geddie said. 

Saudi activists, academics, and human rights defenders have formed a blueprint called the Saudi People's Vision for Reform, in response to the government's Vision 2030 plan that aims to improve society and the economy. 

The People's Vision for Reform sets out goals not mentioned in the government plan including, releasing all human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, protecting women's rights, abolishing the death penalty, and more.