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Human rights groups to boycott pre-G20 summit in Saudi Arabia

January 14, 2020 at 11:08 am

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman during a press conference in Riyadh, on 25 April 2019 [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

Three of the most prominent international human rights organisations decided on Monday to boycott a series of meetings for civil society organisations, scheduled to take place in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, as part of the G20 summit.

“As leading civil society organisations present in most countries around the world (but notably not Saudi Arabia), we cannot participate in a process that seeks to give international legitimacy to a state that provides virtually no space for civil society, and where independent civil society voices are not tolerated,” Amnesty International, Transparency International and Civicus announced in a joint statement.

The organisations stated that the Saudi kingdom is responsible for the extrajudicial execution of journalist and peaceful critic, Jamal Khashoggi, inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, adding that more than a year after his murder, justice has still not been served.

READ: UN expert condemns Saudi Arabia ruling on Khashoggi murder

The statement added: “Women face systematic discrimination in law and practice. In addition, women human rights defenders who dare defend the rights of women are subjected to judicial persecution, arbitrary arrests and detention.”

According to Amnesty International: “Saudi Arabia has recently invested in expensive PR campaigns to improve its image, and hosted several high-profile sporting events which draw international visitors. But behind this carefully cultivated façade, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is as appalling as ever.”

Netsanet Belay, research and advocacy director at Amnesty International disclosed: “The C20 in Riyadh is a sham. We cannot participate in a process which is being abused by a state which censors all free speech, criminalises activism for women’s and minority rights, as well as homosexuality, and tortures and executes critics.”

Saudi Arabia took over the G20 presidency in December 2019.

READ: Major sporting events in Saudi Arabia ‘sportwash’ the dire human rights situation