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In reaction to the latest wave of executions in Saudi Arabia, EP Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) Chair Antonio Panzeri gave the following statement on Friday.

On Tuesday 23 April, Saudi Arabia carried out its largest mass execution since 2016. Under the justification of countering terrorism, 37 people, including a high number of Shia and at least three minors at the time of the arrest, were executed in six cities across the country. The executed were mostly convicted for offences related to spying or violent participation in anti-government protests.

This most recent wave of mass executions is particularly chilling due to, among others, the lack of due process, allegations that confessions were obtained through torture, and the barbaric nature of the executions. I want to remind the Saudi leadership that it is only the full respect for fair trial rights that distinguishes capital punishment from arbitrary execution.

The European Parliament and its Subcommittee on Human Rights are firmly committed to the universal abolishment of the death penalty. It is not the way to administer justice. Delivering justice requires an independent judicial system that, in turn, creates confidence in itself.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Football Federation continues negotiations with the Saudi Government to relocate the “Supercopa de Espana” to Riyadh, and the route for 2020 Dakar Rally is planned for the first time in Saudi Arabia. In light of the recent developments, hosting large international sport events in the country is shocking.

Europeans must be united in their principled position against the death penalty. Both the Spanish Football Federation and the Dakar organisers must reconsider their decisions. It is imperative that public and private sectors ensure that in their interactions with third states, they uphold fundamental values that constitute the founding principles of the European Union.