The British Government has reacted with disappointment after the news that Saudi Arabia had executed 47 prominent individuals. The action has also sparked a diplomatic issue with Iran and led to international concern about the killings.
Tobias Ellwood, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, criticised the killings and said:
“I am deeply disturbed by the escalation in tensions in the last 24 hours in the Middle East.
The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty. We have stressed this to the Saudi authorities and also expressed our disappointment at the mass executions.
We have discussed with the authorities in Riyadh, and expect that Ali Al-Nimr and others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed. The UK will continue to raise these cases with the Saudi authorities.
We are deeply concerned to hear of the attack yesterday on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. It is essential that diplomatic missions are properly protected and respected.
There are those who will wish to exploit the situation and raise sectarian tensions higher. This would be against the wishes of the vast majority of those in the region. I urge all parties in the region to show restraint and responsibility”.
Andy Slaughter, the Shadow Spokesman on Human Rights, said that the Government should consider its links with Saudi Arabia:
“It is not right that the UK should be actively cooperating with a justice system that shows such flagrant disregard for the most basic human rights and the rule of law”.