Rights groups urges Biden to attach conditions to Saudi visit

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage/AP)
US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage/AP)

A coalition of rights groups are urging US President Joe Biden not to visit Saudi Arabia in the absence of commitments by Riyadh on human rights, warning it could encourage “violations.”

Biden confirmed last week he was considering a trip to the conservative kingdom — a stark reversal after he called for it to be made a pariah state during his successful campaign for the presidency.

The oil-rich nation’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands accused by US intelligence of ordering the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.

The accusation is vehemently denied by Riyadh, which has also been accused of wide-ranging rights abuses at home.

“We urge your administration to secure genuine progress on human rights before acting in a manner that would bolster the status of the crown prince and his government,” 13 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, say in an open letter to Biden.

The crown prince’s government “routinely and callously abuses the rights of its own citizens, as well as those of Americans and others around the world,” the letter adds.

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