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UK’s Saudi trade trip overshadowed by ‘lethal force’ row

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“However, we know too well the challenges of conducting human rights assessment in Saudi, so in such cases where risk assessment and effective mitigation are not possible, business enterprises should consider not undertaking the relevant activity.”

The reports come as the Conservative government increasingly sets its sights on a trade deal with the GCC ahead of a general election due later this year.

An aide to the trade secretary confirmed Badenoch will also be in Riyadh “because it is a good opportunity to speak to key people in the GCC, one of her main trade deal priorities for 2024.”

But Tom Wills, director of campaign group the Trade Justice Movement, said the NEOM claims were “yet more evidence that it is inappropriate for the U.K. to be taking forward trade negotiations with the GCC.”

“Instead of accompanying business junkets to rights-abusing regimes, government ministers should be looking at how our trade policies can be used to promote high standards of human rights and environmental protections,” he added.

Pressed on the concerns at an event in London on Thursday morning, Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he had “only just seen” the reports but would “deal with this case when we get to the bottom of what’s been alleged.”

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