World, Europe

EU follows human rights in Saudi Arabia ‘very closely’

G20 in Riyadh not bilateral but multilateral summit, EU chief says in response to question on rights abuses in Saudi Arabia

Rabia Iclal Turan   | 20.11.2020
EU follows human rights in Saudi Arabia ‘very closely’


The EU follows “very closely” the situation of human rights in Saudi Arabia, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said ahead of an upcoming virtual G20 summit to be hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Responding to a question at a news conference whether the EU leaders will raise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, von der Leyen said: “We also follow the people defending fundamental rights, including women’s rights and individual rights. So this is an ongoing topic and a very serious topic.

However, von der Leyen -- along with EU Council President Charles Michel at the same conference -- underlined that the summit was not a bilateral event but it’s a multilateral summit.

“I also want to emphasize that it’s important that we delink the multilateral and bilateral aspects. And this multilateral forum has a very strict agenda. It has a very clear protocol. It’s not a bilateral summit,” she added.

Many human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, urged the G20 leaders to speak up against human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International on Thursday released a statement urging the leaders to demand the immediate release of five jailed women rights activists in an upcoming virtual summit to be hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia assumed the presidency of the G20 in December 2019 and will chair a virtual Leaders’ Summit on Nov. 21-22.

Charles Michel added that the summit is being held at such a unique time, when the leaders will discuss what a post-coronavirus world will look like.

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, the leaders will discuss economic recovery and building a sustainable future, top EU diplomats said.

The EU also welcomed the US President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“We also expect new momentum from the new US administration on this issue,” von der Leyen said, adding that the world needs a global agreement on climate change.

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