Labour MEPs attack UK govt’s “sickening complicity” over Saudi crucifixion child as Euro-MPs demand his release

A last-minute plea for Saudi Arabia to waive the execution of a child demonstrator due to be beheaded after taking part in a democracy protest, in a case cited by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in his inaugural Labour Party conference speech, will be made in a Labour-led debate in the European Parliament today.

Euro-MPs are expected to vote to call on Saudi King Salman to pardon Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death in August, after taking part in the democracy protest when still 17 years old.

The resolution is being proposed by Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson in the European Parliament, Richard Howitt MEP, after new leader Jeremy Corbyn had personally challenged the British prime minister to intervene in the case, and to withdraw a UK government bid to provide services on behalf of the Saudi Prison Service responsible for the execution.

In his parliamentary speech today, Richard Howitt MEP will say British complicity is sickening and European assurances about respect for human rights in counter-terrorism cooperation are being breached.

Mr Howitt will tell MEPs:

“Ali was arrested and tortured only for being part of the Arab Spring, and now displays incredible bravery in the face of a horrible death. The true bravery would be for the Saudi authorities to allow Ali to live and the right to peaceful protest to live with him.

“Saudi Arabia is a country which has accepted the chair of the expert panel in the UN Human Rights Council, but in this case is clearly prepared to breach its legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“It is a country which is increasing its use of the death penalty, when Europe demands for it to have a moratorium.

“As our resolution shows, there is well-founded suspicion that Ali’s fate is only because he comes from the family of a Shia cleric, who is himself a dissident in the country.

“Today we say Saudi Arabia would be responsible for a brutal act. The brutality isn’t just in how the protests were suppressed. The brutality isn’t just in how Ali was tortured and denied medical treatment. The brutality isn’t just in the method of execution.

“The true brutality is in the unwillingness of the Saudi authorities to contemplate all of these, and then in their continuing refusal to spare an innocent life.

“President, last year in this chamber I spoke on the agreement on counter-terrorism between the European Union and Saudi Arabia, and this Parliament voted that it must be subject to respect for human rights.

“Today all reports suggest a boy is sentenced to death as a terrorist, based on evidence that has been withheld, a confession signed under duress and a trial which has been held in secret.

“It is sickening that my own country’s government is bidding to provide services for the very same Saudi Prison Service which will be responsible for inflicting the death penalty.

“Britain and our European partners want good relations with Saudi Arabia, but say we will not be complicit in the violation of human rights. Today we must ask if the treatment of Ali al-Nimr is consistent with the assurances given about the relationship we have?

“If those promises are to mean anything, they must mean Ali’s life, Ali was a child. Let him be a man.”