01/02/2016 Lords Questions


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My lords had big leads to ask the question standing in my namd on the


order paper. The British Government is firmly opposed to the de`th


penalty in all circumstances and in every country. We have exprdss these


concerns to the Saudi authorities, most recently during my visht on the


25th of January last week. ,-. It does not shy away from raishng human


rights concern and we believe it will be more successful in


discussing cases privately with Saudi Arabia than criticising them


publicly. It is widely reported that in the first year of office 201 ,


Saudi Arabia executed more people than in any of the previous 20


years. Any of those people were executed for political dissdnt. The


last time we discussed this on the 13th of January, the Noble Lady


asked all five of this housd to asked all five of this housd to


express these concerns to the Saudi government. She told us that they


have done so, could she tell the House what the Saudi governlent s


response was and indeed if they are point to distinguish between


political dissent and other crimes. My lords, during his visit, he had


meetings with members of thd national Society for human rights in


Saudi Arabia Minister of foreign affairs, and members of the Council,


he also met with advisers, ly lords he did cover a wide variety of


people with whom he could h`ve this conversation naturally. As H just


explained in my first answer, we would prefer to make our pohnts in a


private environment. What I will say is that the Saudi Arabian government


and offices of Saudi Arabia are clear that we will not stop coming


forward in our view is on e`ch and every case. Where somebody has been


arrested and may face of cotrse the death penalty. My lords, thd Noble


Baroness has said that we ddplore executions for political re`sons in


all countries, may I ask her whether her representations have bedn


equally private and equally powerful in the country of Iran? My lords, of


course I would a dramatic relationship with Iran has only


recently resumed and it is hmportant that we are able to nurture that. My


lords, I believe that Iran would be under no misunderstanding about the


strength of opinion of the British Government of all British Government


in recent decades over the fact that the death penalty is wrong hn


principle and practice and ht undermines a successful sochety My


lords, the, I cannot understand why we make on the private


representations to Saudi Ar`bia is it a public condemnation th`t much


more effective? Our expense has been that certain countries that is in


fact not the case, it can bd counterproductive. We are always


careful to ensure that we m`ke best use of our diplomatic voice in


private. My Lord, Saudi Arabia has any country does respond better to


that exchange, it does not stop me being as public as I am tod`y. Both


Iran and Saudi are both extremely volatile and if we are not careful,


what is happening in Saudis wheels over as we know into Yemen `nd will


spill over into Bahrain if we are not careful. I would therefore ask


the ministers to exercise as much pressure as they can on the Saudi


government to understand th`t it is almost impossible to defend given


the behaviour of the regime. My lords, the point that lies behind


his words, is certainly right. That is that all countries have to have


regard to the fact that thehr actions may lead to regional


instability, it is important in the Middle East in general that all


countries recognise what impact their actions can have. Is the Noble


Lady able to comment on reports of the execution of a young man under


the age of 18 was in it a breach of the Shari and law? My lords, I am


aware there is a newspaper reports in effect that one person who was


expected to be an adult at the time of execution may not have bden, but


there is not get proof of that matter, certainly with regard to the


juveniles who are being held at the moment on their penalty which does


include that sentence, we h`ve been given assurances including lost


recently by the Saudi foreign affairs minister that the sdntences


will not be carried out. My lords, the fact is of course that however


we think about sharia law wd might have different views on that, it is


a case that some countries do have the death penalty and we nedd to


work to make sure it is removed


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