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The European Parliament voted to once again rebuke the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its human rights situation, this time as pertaining to human rights violations against migrants and foreigners in Saudi prisons. This was on a resolution adopted in 8 October 2020.
The resolution, entitled “…on the situation of Ethiopian migrants in detention centers in Saudi Arabia,” passed demanded that the Government of Saudi Arabia immediately end the “appalling practices” violating the human rights of Ethiopians in Saudi prisons, and called on EU Member States to reduce their delegations to Saudi Arabia’s G20 summit later this year.
The resolution comes on the heels of an Amnesty International report documenting the horrific conditions that Ethiopian prisoners face while incarcerated in the Kingdom. According to the report, Ethiopian migrants are confined to “filthy cells” and are “surrounded by death and disease.” Pregnant women and young infants and children are held in “appalling conditions,” wherein at least three infants have died. Water, food, and access to sanitary facilities are all extremely limited, and sickness, including COVID-19, abounds throughout incarceration facilities – as does the practice of torture.
The European Parliament resolution condemned these conditions and practices, identifying the Saudi government as responsible for the lives of those in its care and demanding that the Kingdom safeguard the well-being of its prisoners. It called on the Government to immediately end the practice of torture in its detention centers, to allow independent monitors into the country to monitor the human rights situation, and to release every person detained without legal basis.
The European Parliament has passed similar motions criticizing the Saudi human rights situations at least four times in the past. The most recent resolution came in 2019, when in February of that year MEPs criticized the Saudi government’s incarceration of women human rights defenders.
Adil al-Saeed, Vice President, ESOHR considered that while the “European Parliament has a strong record of holding Saudi Arabia accountable for its crimes, European Union governments often do not take practical steps commensurate with their parliament. The annual meeting of the G20 is fast approaching, and Saudi Arabia is preparing to show it off as evidence of the acceptability of its violations at the international level. With the Parliament adopting this strong position, now is the time for the European Union countries to stand up to Saudi excesses and boycott the G20 meeting until the Saudi leadership is replaced.”