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Saudi Arabia

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2008

Human rights are a key issue for UK Ministers and are among the many issues that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I discuss on a regular basis. While we welcome efforts to address human rights in Saudi Arabia, the UK Government continue to raise concerns about the human rights situation and to work closely with the Saudi Government to encourage reform.

The oppression of women is a matter of daily life and capital and corporal punishment are part of the Saudis’ abuses of human rights. Can the Minister assure me that he will work with colleagues in the Foreign Office to ensure that the Saudi regime is not allowed to continue those practices, which are condemned by the rest of the world?

I can give the assurance to my hon. Friend that we continue to press Saudi Arabia to adopt the recommendations of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, and in 2007, when we hosted the two kingdoms dialogue at Lancaster house, discussions included specific measures in the area of women’s rights.

As chairman of the all-party group on Saudi Arabia, I can tell the Minister that, following my discussions with the Foreign Secretary this week, he was pleased—following his visit to that country—with the tremendous advances on human rights. Will the Minister join me in congratulating King Abdullah and his Government on the advances that they are making in improving human rights?

Of course we welcome any progress that is made on human rights. I know that a productive and effective meeting took place in Riyadh between the Foreign Secretary and the Government of Saudi Arabia.