Plaid Cymru wrong to defend First Minister’s visit to Qatar says Welsh Lib Dems

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have hit back at Ceredigion’s Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Elin Jones after she defended a planned trip by Mark Drakeford to Qatar.

Mark Drakeford is planning to travel to Qatar during the World Cup to “promote Wales”, but his planned visit has attracted criticism, including from the Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds and UK Liberal Democrats Leader Ed Davey.

The Liberal Democrats have stated that Mark Drakeford risks contributing to the whitewashing of Qatar’s abysmal human rights record and while there shouldn’t be a boycott from national teams, politicians have a duty to stay away.

Qatar ranks extremely poorly on several human rights metrics. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s World Democracy Index, Qatar ranks 126/167 nations making the country an “authoritarian regime”. The country also performs poorly on woman’s rights, with a male guardianship system still in place which means most women still need the permission of a male guardian to carry out everyday tasks.

Qatar has also hit headlines in recent years over its alleged use of foreign migrants for slave labour, including in the construction of stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar, which was billed by Amnesty International as a form of “modern slavery”. Some of these workers later died.

Elin Jones sought to defend Mark Drakeford’s visit on Twitter stating:

“It’s absolutely the right thing for @PrifWeinidog to go to Qatar. Our football team is there, so should he be. None of us wanted Qatar to host. Cheap shot by Ed Davey. If he wants impact, let him call on his own national team to boycott, not another nation’s representation.”

Responding to Elin Jones, former Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion Mark Williams said:

“It is disappointing the politicians of all parties cannot come together on this issue.

“Ceredigion is home to Aberystwyth University and its International Relations department and many people locally care deeply about human rights.

“Not only were Elin Jones’ comments incorrect – no one has called for team Wales to boycott the event only a diplomatic boycott by politicians – but focusing on where Ed Davey lives is a cheap nationalist point.

“The Liberal Democrats will always stand up for human rights, freedom and liberty and do so without shame. It is unfortunate Plaid Cymru don’t feel like they could do the same on this occasion in the case of Qatar.”

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