EU to Boycott G20 Summit in Response to Saudi Arabia’s Rampant Human Rights Abuses

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The European Parliament voted to downgrade its attendance at the upcoming November summit presided by Saudi Arabia and called for sanctions, following the unlawful killings and detainments of several prominent journalists and women’s rights activists and other atrocities. 

By Democracy Center for Transparency

(October 22, 2020, Berlin)  Falling on the two-year anniversary of the catapultic killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, MEPs across Europe voted to downgrade its attendance in October at the 2020 November G20 summit in Saudi Arabia to avoid legitimizing the state’s humanitarian crisis and urged for sanctions, in the EU’s strongest retribution against the state yet. The bill calls for the end of the abuse and torture of detained individuals, deportations, the heavily criticized kafala “sponsor” system, and for Saudi Arabia to allow external investigations into its human rights abuses, as international NGOs are currently not allowed to operate despite its current status as a humanitarian crisis. Similarly, last February, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately and unconditionally release women’s rights defenders and other dissidents.

The G20 summit comes as a series of prominent international business, sports, and entertainment events hosted by Saudi Arabia, totaling an investment of $64bn in the effort to wash over the country’s concurrent war crimes, and waves of violence arrests of political dissidents. This past March, Saudi Arabia began the trials of several women’s rights activists in Riyadh, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sadah, and Nouf Abdulaziz, who were reportedly subject to torture, abuse, and sexual violence since their detainment in 2014 and 2016. Despite new laws introduced shortly thereafter permitting female driving, the activists were detained for petitioned for women’s right to drive and the end of the discriminatory male guardianship program. Saudi’s male guardianship program does not allow women to study, work, or domestically and internationally travel without the permission of their appointed male guardian. Guardians can file complaints for “disobedience,” and the forcible return of women to their male guardian’s home or imprisonment, leaving women unable to escape domestic violence. Saudi prosecutors also accused the detained activists of sharing information about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia with journalists, diplomats, and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, deeming such contacts a criminal offense

Additional transnational human rights abuses that have raised international concern include a multitude of reports detailing the common occurrence of migrant workers facing overwork, forced confinement, withholding of wages and food, and physical abuse through the Kafala visa sponsorship program. 

Demokratiezentrum für Transparenz

Demokratiezentrum für Transparenz

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