29 member states of the Human Rights Council rebuked Saudi Arabia for its human rights record and condemned the harassment of rights defenders, civil society, and political opponents. The countries called on the Saudi authorities to release all political opponents and human rights activists and to ensure transparency and holding all those responsible accountable.
Denmark delivered a cross-regional joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council 45th regular session calling on Saudi Arabia to establish the truth about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Istanbul Consulate last October and ensure the perpetrators are held to account.This demand came a week after a Saudi court has overturned five death sentences over dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing which sparked huge discontent of the international community.
The signatories expressed deep concern over the practice of enforced disappearance, torture, arbitrary detention, and the use of the anti-terrorism law to intimidate individuals and voiced their regret for the continued detention of at least five women’s human rights defenders including Loujain Al-Hathloul who is subjected to several forms of mistreatment inside the prison.
Countries signing the joint statement on Saudi Arabia include Australia, Britain, Canada, and Switzerland, which is joining for the first time such initiatives after it was widely criticized for not participating in the two previous ones in March and September of last year. This international pressure on Saudi Arabia comes two months ahead of the 2020 G20 Riyadh summit which will be held next November in Riyadh amid calls for boycotting the Summit.
Statement under general debate, item 2
45th session on the United Nations Human Rights Council
I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of a group of states.
We welcome reform steps by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to improve the human rights situation, most recently restricting the use of flogging and curbing use of death penalty against minors for most crimes.
While acknowledging these positive measures, we remain concerned about the overall human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
Civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and political opposition still face persecution, detention and intimidation. We deeply regret the continued detention of at least five women’s human rights defenders, arrested in 2018. We reiterate our call for the release of all political detainees and are particularly concerned about the use of the counter-terrorism law and other security provisions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights.
We remain deeply concerned by reports of torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and detainees being denied access to essential medical treatment and contact with their families. We recall the recommendations from the Committee against Torture in this regard.
We strongly oppose the death penalty, including against minors and for non-violent crimes.
We welcome recent positive steps in women’s rights. However, we remain deeply concerned about the persisting discrimination of women and girls and urge Saudi Arabia to take further actions for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
More than a year ago the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions shared her conclusions on the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. We reiterate our call for transparency and holding all those responsible accountable.
Finally, we reiterate that Council membership comes with an expectation of upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. Members must expect public scrutiny of their human rights record. In its capacity as a candidate to the Council, we urge Saudi Arabia to uphold the highest human rights standards and fully cooperate with the Council and its Mechanisms. We stand ready to work constructively with you in this regard.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK.