EU rebukes Saudi Arabia over human rights at UN forum

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EU rebukes Saudi Arabia over human rights at UN forum

At least 36 countries, including all 28 members of the European Union, have signed a statement condemning Saudi Arabia’s human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR).

The joint statement, read out by Harald Aspelund, Iceland’s ambassador to the Geneva talks, is the first rebuke of the kingdom from the UN forum since it was set up in 2006.

“It is a success for Europe to be united on this,” an envoy of an EU country told Reuters news agency.

The statement called on Saudi authorities to release activists held in the country and to cooperate with a UN-led probe into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The circumstances of Mr Khashoggi’s death reaffirm the need to protect journalists and to uphold the right to freedom of expression around the world,” the statement, as read out by Aspelund, said.

“Investigations into the killing must be independent and transparent. Those responsible must be held to account.

“We call on Saudi Arabia to take meaningful steps to ensure that all members of the public, including human rights defenders and journalists, can freely and fully exercise their rights to freedoms of expression, opinion and association, including online, without fear of reprisals.”

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