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Saudi Arabia: Human Rights

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement. (158030)

We remain concerned about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. We regularly discuss our concerns with the Saudi authorities at all levels. Human rights are also raised on our behalf by the EU, which has decided to keep the details of these discussions confidential.

We are committed to encouraging Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record and adhere to international human rights standards. The hon. Member may also welcome the recent increase in the activities by the National Society on Human Rights (NSHR). In May 2007 the NSHR published its first annual report on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, since it was established in 2004. This is a significant step forward.

In addition on 1 October, a royal decree approved the new Judiciary Law and the Court of Grievances Law. The decree establishes a Supreme Court and an Appeal Court. It also establishes five specialised courts: General, Criminal, Labour, Commercial and Civil. The Grievance Bureau is replaced by a new three-tier system, which also includes Appeal and Supreme Courts. We welcome this announcement.