Press Releases Saudi Arabia: Third EU-KSA Human Rights Dialogue held in Brussels

Saudi Arabia: Third EU-KSA Human Rights Dialogue held in Brussels

The European Union and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) held their third Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels on 28 November.

The Dialogue touched upon a wide range of human rights topics. Such as labour rights, women and vulnerable groups rights, rule of law, fundamental freedoms, freedom of religion or belief, and human trafficking. The discussion also focused on cooperation in UN human rights fora, in particular the priorities for the Human Rights Council and UNGA 3rd Committee sessions; the Universal Periodic Review; the ratification of international human rights treaties; and cooperation with UN Special Procedures.

The European Union acknowledged the progress made by Saudi Arabia in the areas of labour rights, welcoming the dismantling of the Kefala system, the empowerment of women and youth, and the promotion of economic and social rights.

The European Union reiterated its strong and unequivocal opposition to the death penalty in all cases, at all times and in all circumstances, and expressed concerns over its continued application in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including for drugs-related offences and non-lethal crimes. The EU also stressed the importance of upholding the right to a fair trial and due process guarantees. In this context, the EU asked the Saudi counterpart to facilitate the observation of trials by EU, and its Member States’ diplomatic staff.

Moreover, the parties discussed the need to uphold freedom of expression, online and offline, both in Europe and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this regard, the European Union expressed its concerns regarding the restrictive environment for civic and political rights in Saudi Arabia, and indicated the issue of long prison sentences imposed for activity on social media. The EU also raised several individual cases of concern.

The two sides exchanged on trafficking in human beings, touching upon aspects of migration and asylum policy in the EU and KSA, including incidents at the Saudi-Yemeni border.

As a concrete deliverable of the Dialogue, the European Union and Saudi Arabia agreed to further enhance cooperation and share experience and expertise on areas such as, labour rights in cooperation with ILO, and human trafficking and migration.

The two co-chairs, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, and President of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Hala al-Tuwaijiri, agreed to convene the next Human Rights Dialogue in Riyadh in 2024.

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