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Rights groups urge mayors of world capital cities to boycott Saudi summit: report

The summit coincides with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 September, 2020

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Mayors must boycott a summit held by Saudi Arabia coinciding with the second anniversary of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, rights groups said.
A global coalition of human rights groups is calling on mayors of some of the world's biggest cities to boycott a G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, the Guardian reported on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia's Urban 20 (U20) is being held on the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Istanbul Saudi consulate.

The summit is held as part of the Saudi Arabian chairmanship of this year's G20 and has invited mayors including London's Sadiq Khan, Berlin's Michael Müller, New York's Bill de Blasio, and Paris's Anne Hidalgo.

The human rights group coalition sent the letter to a total of seven mayors, saying the Saudi government "as an absolute monarchy without any form of meaningful democratic representation has a long record of silencing the very voices that are necessary for a meaningful global conversation".

"Saudi Arabia's brutal record has only intensified since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince in 2017," the letter warned.

The letter calls on Saudi Arabia to take immediate measures to end human rights violations, including pursuing real justice in the case of Khashoggi and releasing jailed activists.

"Human rights and civil society norms are under threat across the world. G20 delegations have an obligation to ensure that G20 meetings are not used by host governments to obscure or hide their own repressive and environmentally destructive practices," the letter, reviewed by the Guardian, said.

The Saudi court has jailed eight unnamed defendants after overturning five death sentences in a trial attended by diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on the condition of not sharing classified information.

Read also: Saudi king and crown prince at loggerheads over Israel normalisation, report claims

The ruling was condemned by Khashoggi's fiancee and UN rights expert Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, who decried that top officials who allegedly ordered his death had walked free.

According to the Guardian, signatories to the letter include Action Corps, Freedom Forward, Geneva-based MENA Rights Group and the London-based ALQST.

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