As the US and the UK have been called to intervene in two high profile human rights cases in Saudi Arabia, one of the kingdom’s top diplomats has said the world should respect its judicial system and should not interfere in its internal affairs.
On Tuesday Reuters reported British Prime Minister David Cameron will intervene in the case of an elderly Briton facing 350 lashes in Saudi Arabia after being caught with homemade wine – a punishment which his family said could kill him.
Karl Andree, 74, was jailed for 12 months in August last year but remains in prison awaiting further punishment for breaking strict Saudi laws prohibiting alcohol after police found the wine in his car.
“This is an extremely concerning case,” Cameron’s spokeswoman told reporters. “Given the ongoing concerns and the fact we would like to see more progress, the PM is writing today to the Saudis to further raise the case.”
At the same time, the mother of a teenage Saudi protester sentenced to crucifixion has begged US President Barack Obama to intervene and save her son’s life. Ali Mohammed Al Nimr was given the death penalty in May after taking part in demonstrations three years ago for democracy and equal rights in Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing Eastern Province.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Reprieve, the UK and France have called for clemency as he was just 17 when he was arrested in 2012. His mother has now begged the US government to intervene before Al Nimr’s execution.
However, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al Mouallimi, has said foreign countries must respect the Saudi legal system and warned them not to interfere in its internal matters.
“We respectfully request the world to respect our systems and our judicial processes, and our laws and regulations, and not to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” Al Mouallimi told the BBC’s Newsnight in an interview when asked about global outrage regarding Al Minr’s pending execution and the case of jailed blogger Raif Badawi who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes for writing online about free speech and democracy.
“The application of sharia law as far as human rights is concerned is the highest form of human rights,” said Al Mouallimi, who last month was controversially elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. “We believe that we are holding ourselves to the highest standards. If that doesn’t please someone here or there, that’s their problem not ours.” Arabian Business