Sports

British politicians call on F1 to take action on Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – A group of British politicians have written to Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali encouraging the sport to take action to tackle human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

The first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will take place in Jeddah on Sunday amid accusations by human rights groups of “cleansing sport”.

A group of British politicians, which includes four members of the House of Commons and three members of the House of Commons, said the death penalty continues to be applied in Saudi Arabia to children, nonviolent offenders and exercisers of the right to freedom of speech. .

“Holding a race in Jeddah without addressing these egregious violations of international law risks being seen as their tacit endorsement,” the letter to Domenicali read.

“As a hugely popular international brand, hosting sporting events enjoyed by millions, Formula One has a moral obligation to ensure that its presence in a country does not create punishment for human rights violations.”

It added: “We call on you [F1] take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Saudi Grand Prix to promote meaningful human rights reforms in the Kingdom, by publicly calling on the authorities to abolish the death penalty for all childhood crimes and all nonviolent crimes, without exception. “

The letter cites the case of Mustafa al-Darwish, who was executed on June 15, 2021, after being arrested for protest-related crimes, such as “sowing discord”, when he I’m 17 years old. false statements after days of severe torture.

Asked about the letter, an F1 spokesperson said: “For decades, Formula One has worked hard to be a positive force everywhere it races, including in economic interests. , social and cultural.Sports like Formula One are uniquely positioned to transcend borders and cultures to bring nations and communities together to share the passion and excitement of competition and incredible achievements.

“We take our responsibility for rights very seriously and set high ethical standards for our partners and those in our supply chain, which are spelled out in our contracts and we pay close attention to their compliance.”

Human rights group Amnesty International also accused Sunday’s race of diverting attention from Saudi Arabia’s “dismal” human rights record.

Amnesty claims Saudi Arabia continues to suppress free speech after hosting the G20 Summit in 2020 and reports that 39 individuals are still imprisoned in the kingdom for exercising their right to freedom of speech. discussion, association and meeting.

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director, said: “Over the past few years, the Saudi authorities have invested heavily in PR stunts to build on. brands and try to draw attention away from their brutal crackdown on activists and human rights defenders.

“While we briefly witnessed the executions and prosecutions of activists during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 summit, that ended shortly after the event. the authorities stepped up the repression again.

“The Saudi authorities need to realize that the best PR comes from respecting human rights.

“If the authorities want to be seen differently, they should immediately and unconditionally release all those detained for peacefully expressing their views, lift all orders travel bans and a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty.

“Foreign governments looking to deepen their relationship with Saudi Arabia should urge the authorities to address their dire human rights record.

“Any company that organizes major events in Saudi Arabia must identify, reduce or prevent any human rights violations that they may cause, contribute to, or be directly related to.” to its operations, products and services, including Formula 1 and Grand Prix races.”

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