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Motion for a resolution - B8-0151/2015Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Saudi Arabia, the case of Raif Badawi

10.2.2015 - (2015/2550(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Javier Couso Permuy, Malin Björk, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Ángela Vallina, Marisa Matias, João Ferreira, Inês Cristina Zuber, Miguel Viegas, Fabio De Masi, Younous Omarjee, Lidia Senra Rodríguez, Marina Albiol Guzmán, Paloma López Bermejo, Neoklis Sylikiotis, Martina Michels, Sabine Lösing, Sofia Sakorafa, Kostas Chrysogonos, Patrick Le Hyaric, Kateřina Konečná on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0143/2015

Procedure : 2015/2550(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on Saudi Arabia, the case of Raif Badawi


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which protects freedom of opinion and expression, and to article 5 which provides that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

–   having regard to UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–   having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights whose article 32 paragraph 1 guarantees the right to information and freedom of opinion and expression, and article 8 prohibits physical or psychological torture or cruel, degrading, humiliating or inhuman treatment,

–   having regard to the Report on Saudi Arabia of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of Council of 26 December 2013,

–   having regard to the Cooperation Agreement of 25 February 1989 between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),

–   having regard to the Joint Communiqué of the 23rd EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of June 2013,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, in particular to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on Saudi Arabia, its relations with the EU and its role in the Middle East and North Africa,

–   having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure;

A. whereas human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains highly alarming, particularly with regards to lack of democratic rights, discrimination against women and the existence of corporal punishment and the death penalty;

B. whereas Raif Badawi, a human rights activist and a 31-year-old father of three, was sentenced by the Criminal Court of Jeddah in May 2014 to 10 years in prison and 1 000 lashes, because he had created a website where he criticized Saudi Arabia's clerk and thus allegedly insulted Islam;

C. whereas in January 2015 Badawi received his first set of 50 lashes in front of the Al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah in an appalling ordeal that lasted around 15 minutes, resulting in wounds so profound that when Mr Badawi was taken to a prison clinic for a medical checkup, it was found by the doctors that he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at that time;

D. whereas the case of Mr Badawi is but one of many cases of harsh sentences and harassment of Saudi human rights defenders, several of whom imprisoned without trial or convicted under procedures which fall short of international fair trial standards, as has been confirmed by the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2014;

E. whereas the incumbent UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has "appeal[ed] to the King of Saudi Arabia to exercise his power to halt the public flogging by pardoning Mr. Badawi, and to urgently review this type of extraordinarily harsh penalty";

F. whereas all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; whereas freedom of expression is a fundamental right, which includes the right to hold opinions and express oneself through any medium of communication, including social media, and which, according to correct interpretation, "is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population";

G. whereas prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is not just included in all international and regional human rights instruments, but constitutes a rule of customary international law, which is thus binding on all states, independent of whether they have ratified the relevant instruments;

H. whereas flogging and other forms of corporal judicial punishment constitute torture, the latter including, according to the definition provided by the UN Convention Against Torture, any "act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as [...] punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person [...] when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity";

I. whereas the death penalty is still applied in Saudi Arabia for a wide variety of crimes, whereas the regime has carried out 15 beheadings only in the first 20 days of 2015 and executed at least 84 in 2014; whereas public executions take place and those executed can be crucified and publicly displayed;

J. whereas the so-called Islamic State and Saudi Arabia prescribe near-identical punishments for a host of crimes, as death penalty for blasphemy, murder, acts of homosexuality, theft or treason; death by stoning for adultery or amputation of hand and foot for banditry;

K. whereas women's rights are being violated in Saudi Arabia, as they are considered inferior to men and are under the control of a male member of their family rather than having the freedom to make their own decisions on matters such as going out or travelling; whereas Saudi women do not have the right to vote and are prohibited from driving and are therefore discriminated against in public life and public space;

L. whereas the treatment of many immigrant workers is deeply worrying, in particular of those working on the building sector or as domestic helpers, with working conditions similar to slavery and including child labour;

M. whereas some EU Member States, including the United Kingdom, France and Spain have strong political and security relations with Saudi Arabia; whereas the EU is Saudi Arabia’s main trading partner with 15 % of total trade and it is the 11th-largest trade partner for the EU; whereas a large number of EU companies are investors in the Saudi economy, especially in the country’s petroleum industry and Saudi Arabia is an important market for the export of EU industrial goods in areas such as defence, transport, automotive, medical and chemical exports;

N. whereas on 22 January 2015 Saudi Arabia King Salman acceded to the throne of an hereditary, feudal, absolute monarchy without an elected parliament; whereas Saudi Arabia has a population of 28 million, including 9 million foreigners; whereas Saudi Arabia plays a leading role in financing, disseminating and promoting worldwide a particularly extremist interpretation of Islam; whereas the most sectarian vision of Islam that have inspired terrorist organisations such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda;

1. Strongly condemns the widespread human rights violations committed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, calls on the Saudi authorities to stop the execution of any corporal punishment in the country and bring national law closer to international human rights standards; calls on the Saudi authorities to halt the unacceptable punishment of Raif Badawi, and; and to immediately release him as well as all prisoners of conscience, as Sheikh al-Suliaman Rashudi, Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, Dr Mohammed al-Qahtani, Dr Abdulaziz al-Khodr, Mohammed al-Bajadi, Fowzan al- Harbi, Dr. Abdulrahman al-Hamid Saleh al-Ashwan Omar al-Sa'id, Fadhel al-Manasif, Loujain al-Hathloul, Maysaa al-Amoudi, Waleed Abu al-Khair;

2. Reiterates that corporal punishment and especially flogging is in itself an unacceptable form of treatment under any circumstances whatsoever, and should thus be abolished in all countries;

3. Is convinced that criticizing public and/or religious office-holders on social media should not be considered as a criminal offence;

4. Calls on the Saudi authorities to respect the prohibition of torture as it is most notably enshrined in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Saudi Arabia has signed and ratified;

5. Reiterates its call for the universal abolition of the death penalty and calls for an immediate moratorium on the carrying out of death sentences in KSA; condemns the fact that Saudi Arabia continues to apply the death penalty for a wide variety of way they consider to be crimes, including homosexuality, drug offences, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft;

6. Deplores the fact that despite the ratification in October 2004 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in practice Saudi women are still discriminated against in many ways, in their personal lives, in matters of employment, participation in public life, submission to men, widespread domestic violence, or by restrictions on their rights to free movement and on the freedom to choose their partner; condemns the criminalisation of women who are victims of rape and sexual exploitation, who are not protected as victims but rather condemned as prostitutes; deplores the detention of women like the young Loujain al-Hathloul for driving a car;

7. Calls on the authorities to improve the working conditions and treatment of immigrant workers, with special attention to the situation of women working as domestic helpers, who are at particular risk of sexual violence and to eradicate child labour;

8. Condems the fact that despite widespread human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and despite the financing by this country of terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia the main ally of US and European countries in the region; deplores the EU policy of double standards demonstrated in the hypocritical and preferential treatment of Saudi Arabia, motivated by the EU's economic and geostrategic interests its dependence on oil; condemns European complicity which allows and encourages the sale of arms to said government; calls on the EU to put an end to its preferential relations with Saudi Arabia and to stop any negotiation of an association agreement or trade agreement with this country while it continues to perpetrate widespread human rights violations;

9. Deplores the destabilising effects of arms sales by some EU Member States, like Spain or France to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region; deeply deplores the involvement several Member States, which increased arms sales and recalls the close and publicly notorious relationship between some European Governments and the Spanish royal family with the Al Saud dynasty, as well as their shared interests;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative/Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Arab Human Rights Committee, and the King and the Government of Saudi Arabia.