German government should deny company license to export arms to Saudi Arabia

On 23 June 2016, a court ruled that the Government of Germany must decide whether to grant arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch a license to sell assault rifle parts to Saudi Arabia. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) call on the German government to deny Heckler & Koch the license due to the Government of Saudi Arabia’s history of gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings.

The Government of Saudi Arabia has consistently used excessive force to disperse protests and target activists, often resulting in death. The government has frequently engaged in extrajudicial killing since the regional unrest in 2011. Between 20 and 23 November 2011 Saudi security forces shot and killed four protesters. In January 2012, the authorities shot and killed Issam Mohammed Abu Abdallah, who was 22-years-old. On 11 February 2012, security forces shot and killed Zuhair al-Said, who was protesting against the extrajudicial killings of demonstrators. In July 2012, security forces killed two protesters and injured two others protesting prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s arrest.

Saudi authorities have focused on the town of Awamiya in recent years, subjecting it to particularly violent raids. On 20 December 2014, between 100 and 150 Special Security Forces personnel staged a raid in Awamiya that lasted from 6 A.M. through the middle of the afternoon. Security forces killed five Awamiya residents. Two died after being taken into custody. Security forces also shot and killed 17-year-old Thamer Hassan al-Rabi in the throat while he was driving his car.

Extrajudicial killings by Saudi Arabia’s security forces continued into 2016. On 23 June, security forces raided the home of Awamiya residents Abdul-Rahim al-Faraj and his brother Majed, who were reportedly wanted by the authorities, shooting and killing Abdul-Rahim al-Faraj.

The Saudi government’s use of excessive force resulting in extrajudicial killings demonstrates a disregard for the lives of its citizens. Saudi Arabia signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which lays out international human rights norms providing for the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Articles 19 and 20. Despite this, the government has violently dispersed protests, and shot and killed demonstrators. In addition to not respecting its international human rights obligations, the Government of Saudi Arabia has continually refused to allow the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions to visit the country. The Rapporteur first requested to visit Saudi Arabia in 2005, but did not receive a response. The Special Rapporteur sent a follow-up request in 2008, which the government did not answer. After more than ten years since the initial request, Saudi Arabia continues to deny a country visit from the Special Rapporteur to investigate extrajudicial killings carried out by the government.

The Government of Saudi Arabia has used excessive force while suppressing protests, and continues to commit extrajudicial killings against its own citizens. ADHRB and ESOHR call on the German government to deny Heckler & Koch its arms export license. In addition, ADHRB and ESOHR strongly urge the Government of Saudi Arabia to uphold its international human rights obligations and cease the practice of extrajudicial killings against its population.

For a PDF of this statement, please click here.