Dutch parliament approves ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia
Dutch parliament approves ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia

[JURIST] The Dutch parliament [official website] on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban weapon exports to Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands is now the first country to pass formal legislation banning exports to Riyadh, after a February decision by the European Parliament [official website] urged EU countries to impose a ban due to the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The bill cited humanitarian violations [Reuters report] in Yemen and recent mass executions in Saudi Arabia as justification for the ban. Experts suggest this bill could encourage other European nations to adopt similar measures [Independent report]. Notably, Great Britain, France and Germany are three of the largest exporters of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s justice system has drawn international criticism for alleged human rights abuses in recent months. In January a well-known female human rights activist was detained [JURIST report] by government authorities in Saudi Arabia, allegedly for her involvement in managing a Twitter account that campaigned for the release of her former husband, a Saudi lawyer who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for activism. Also in January Saudi Arabian officials announced that the government executed 47 prisoners convicted of terrorism charges [JURIST report], including al Qaeda detainees and a prominent Shiite cleric who rallied protesters against the government. In November a Saudi Arabia court sentenced Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to death [JURIST report] for apostasy; or abandoning his Muslim faith. In November Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that Saudi Arabia has executed a record 151 people in 2015 [JURIST report], the highest number since 1995. In 2014 the total number of executions carried out was 90. AI said that almost half of all the executions carried out in 2015 were for offenses that are not considered “most serious crimes” under the international human rights laws. Saudi Arabia also reportedly continues to impose the death sentence on individuals under the age of 18, violating child human rights laws. In September a group of UN human rights experts urged authorities [JURIST report] in Saudi Arabia to block the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted of involvement in the Arab Spring protests when he was 17.