Saudis hit back over UK torture report
TITLE : Saudis hit back over UK torture report
AUTHOR : John Morrison
DATE : Jaunuary 20, 1998
COPYRIGHT : Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia Tuesday denounced as
anti-Islamic a British parliamentary report which accused the
kingdom, a key trading partner, of widespread torture and human
Ambassador to Britain Dr. Ghazi Algosaibi, in comments faxed
to news media, described the report as ``a rehash of old
allegations with no proof or substantiation.''
He said his country would pay no heed to people who hated
Islam and its laws, adding, ``Pampering murderers, rapists,
terrorists and drug smugglers is not part and parcel of the
Islamic doctrine of human rights.''
``I find it sickening that some people find our money very
acceptable, but not our culture. We shall not accept lessons on
human rights from such people, in public or private,'' the envoy
The furious Saudi response followed a promise by a British
minister to the House of Lords Monday that the government would
study the report in detail and look carefully at its
Baroness Elizabeth Symons, a Foreign Office minister, said
the government was concerned about the reports of torture and
regretted Saudi Arabia's refusal to admit the United Nations
rapporteur on torture.
She said the government had already raised the issue of
human rights, including torture, with Saudi Arabia on several
occasions since it took office in May.
``Of course, there is an important economic relationship
with Saudi Arabia, but there are also very important human
rights issues at stake,'' she said, describing the subject as
one requiring delicate handling.
Saudi Arabia is one of Britain's major trading partners and
British businesses in the country have consistently urged London
to take a cautious line on human rights lest it harm their
The report was made public Tuesday by the all-party
Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the anti-torture charity
Labor Member of Parliament Ann Clywd, launching the report
at a news conference in the House of Commons, urged Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook to press Saudi Arabia on human rights.
``There is enough evidence in this book to show that
torture, mistreatment and degradation of prisoners is alive and
active in Saudi Arabia,'' she said.
She referred to the chopping off of hands and feet under
Saudi law and to the public execution of at least 100 people in
``The time for discreet silence is over,'' Clwyd wrote in an
introduction to the report which said at least 540 people had
been executed since 1990 and flogging sentences were handed down
Cook made clear on assuming office last May that he wanted
British foreign policy to revolve around human rights but he has
consistently dismissed questions put to him about Saudi Arabia's
The focus of the Anglo-Saudi business relationship is the
al-Yamamah arms-for-oil deal signed in the mid-1980s and worth
an estimated $32 billion. Under the 20-year agreement, Britain
supplies aircraft built by British Aerospace Plc, which are paid
for in oil.
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