WASHINGTON — Today, 53 organizations released a statement in support of S.Res.109, Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Mike Lee’s resolution requesting a report on Saudi Arabia’s human rights practices under Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act. The resolution requests information from the State Department on Saudi government abuses both within and outside of the country, including in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.
“A Section 502B(c) resolution, if passed in the Senate, will reassert Congress’s crucial oversight role, require the executive branch to document the litany of destabilizing human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi government and justify its continued security assistance to Saudi Arabia despite these abuses, and force a long overdue public conversation about the U.S.-Saudi relationship,” reads the statement.
Signatories include organizations focusing on human rights, civilian protection, faith-based initiatives, veterans’ issues, conflict resolution, arms control, U.S. foreign policy, Middle East politics, peace activism, and environmental justice, among other matters. “It is long past time for a public conversation about the U.S.-Saudi relationship and a reassertion of congressional oversight,” the groups wrote.
The statement urges the swift passage of Senator Murphy and Senator Lee’s resolution and notes, “S.Res.109 represents a welcome revitalization of Section 502B as a tool for congressional oversight of U.S. security assistance.”
Below are statements from signatories:
“The decision by Senators Murphy and Lee to introduce a 502B resolution is a welcome and necessary step to have a long-overdue review of the US-Saudi relationship, which the Biden administration repeatedly promised but has yet to deliver. The reckless foreign policy and brutal domestic repression of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman continues to undermine U.S. national security interests and raises serious questions around the Saudi government’s reliability as a U.S. partner. For far too long members of Congress have ignored this vital oversight tool and it is great to see it being used to force this important conversation.”
— Seth Binder, Director of Advocacy, Project on Middle East Democracy
“President Biden promised the US would no longer check its values at the door to sell arms. But the President has failed to truly recalibrate the US-Saudi relationship despite ongoing abuses. Congress is right to step in and put Saudi human rights violations at the center of this conversation. We welcome this resolution and hope that President Biden, too, will welcome this chance to openly discuss and review US security assistance to human rights abusers.”
— Sarah Yager, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch
“We welcome Senators Murphy and Lee’s introduction of the 502B resolution, a rare opportunity to place much-needed scrutiny on Saudi Arabia’s brutal human rights record and compel the Biden administration to offer an honest assessment. Saudi Arabia continues to unjustly detain thousands of prisoners for expressing their peaceful opinions, advocating for the respect of human rights, and a range of other ‘crimes.’ The United States government must demand more of its partners and allies, and this resolution is a good step toward rebalancing the relationship.”
— Abdullah Alaoudh, Saudi Director, Freedom Initiative
“Targeting dissidents abroad, undermining UN climate action, and lining the pockets of once-and-future officials – these are only a few of the ways that MBS and the Saudi government degrade the administration’s policy goals and warp stated US values. By invoking the 502B process, Senators Murphy and Lee are finally addressing the elephant in the room: Why does the United States go to such lengths to shore up a government that works overtime to undermine international peace and justice?”
— Eric Eikenberry, Government Relations Director, Win Without War
“The Saudi-led war in Yemen began 8 years ago and has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet. With the help of American-made weapons and military assistance, the war has claimed the lives of at least 377,000 Yemenis with millions more living on the brink of famine. Indiscriminate airstrikes and the Saudi blockade have contributed to disruptions in access to food, water, and medicine, which are responsible for over 60% of the deaths. FCNL commends Senators Chris Murphy and Mike Lee for invoking section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act to investigate Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and urges their colleagues to support this important resolution.”
— Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Director for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
“It has been 47 years since Congress used Section 502B, one of its most powerful tools for conducting human rights oversight of US arms sales and security assistance. This welcome resolution should mark the beginning of renewed attention on Capitol Hill to how US-made bombs and bullets fuel violence, civilian harm, and human rights abuses around the world.”
— Annie Shiel, US Advocacy Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Other groups signing the statement include: Amnesty International USA, ALQST for Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Common Defense, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress Action, Foreign Policy for America, Freedom House, PEN America, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, United Church of Christ Justice and Local Church Ministries, and Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation.
The statement is available online here.