PRESS RELEASE: 16 NGOs sign an Open letter to Formula1 calling to safeguard human rights in the UAE and Saudi Arabia during Grand Prix event Joint NGO Letter to Formula 1 on the Saudi Arabia and UAE Grand Prix 2 December 2021 – A group of 16 NGOs signed a Joint Letter to Stefano Domenicali (CEO of Formula One Group) expressing concern regarding the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix that will take place in Saudi Arabia on December 5, 2021 and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 12, 2021.
Indeed, F1 companies have publicly committed to the respect of human rights in conducting operations, and to the identification and assessment of potential adverse human rights impacts resulting from their activities and relations with suppliers and promoters. Hence, as the CEO of Formula One Group and organiser of the F1 race, we respectfully think it is his responsibility to remind both the Saudi and the Emirati governments of their international human rights commitments and obligations to respect and protect human rights.
With the organisation of the F1 Grand Prix, both Emirati and Saudi officials are seeking to improve their respective image and reputation, while deflecting attention from their countries’ deplorable human rights records, a practice commonly known as sportswashing.
Hosting these races in countries that do not respect human rights and instead stigmatize and persecute peaceful dissenting voices, sends the wrong message to the international community. In light of this, we believe that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should not be allowed to resort to sportswashing to cover or distract from gross human rights violations, including violations of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
In the letter, the NGOs urged the chiefs of F1 teams to use the Grand Prix as a platform to highlight human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE; the cases of all human rights defenders languishing behind bars for their peaceful activism; call on the Saudi and Emirati governments to repeal and end all laws, policies and practices which discriminate against women and implement obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; call on the Saudi and Emirati governments to allow the operation of civil society organizations and end the criminalisation of political association and dissent; call on the Saudi and Emirati governments to abolish the death penalty for all childhood crimes and for all non-violent offences, with no exceptions.
For these reasons, we hope that human rights will be the main focus this December in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. In this way, a clear message would be sent to these countries: that the gross human rights abuses they commit cannot be washed away.
European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Human Rights Sentinel
International Service for Human Rights
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR)
WRHD MENA Coalition
MENA Rights Group
Alliance for Global Justice
ALQST for Human Rights
Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa