Europe and the US in dispute on Saudi Arabia Human Rights position

At the UN Human Rights Forum, European countries announced their objective to pressure Saudi Arabia into releasing detained activists, furthermore, Europe will urge the kingdom to cooperate with a UN-led investigation on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

By Sohaila Barghash

Concerns over the fate of detainees, identified by watchdog groups as women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia are growing as the public prosecutor prepares their trials.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continues to claim the kingdom was not involved in Khashoggi’s murder, neither is it detaining activists.

Iceland is leading an initiative that aims to urge Saudi Arabia to re-establish its ethical position and to prevent it from oppress Human Rights.

And Icelandic diplomat stated on Tuesday, “We believe that members of the Council have a particular responsibility to lead by example and put on the Council’s agenda human rights issues that warrant our collective attention.”

The country won the support of various European countries, as activists welcomed the move.

Last year, Iceland was elected to take a seat in the Human Rights Council, replacing the United States which quit after claiming that the council practiced anti-Israel bias.

Human Rights Watch said in support of this statement, which is the first prominent collective action taken by the council against Saudi Arabia’s harassment of Human Rights, that members of the council should pressure Saudi Arabia into cooperating with investigations into Khashoggi’s murder, stop targeting activists, journalists and critics and release wrongfully detained people.

Last week, a Saudi minister told the Geneva talks that the kingdom would cooperate with its mechanisms, yet did not specifically refer to Khashoggi’s case, which is now being investigated by Agnes Callamard, a UN investigator on extra-judicial executions.

Last month, after her visit to Turkey, Callamard stated that evidence pointed to a brutal murder of Khashoggi, additionally, US intelligence agencies expressed their claim that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, which Riyadh has denied.

Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also told the Geneva forum the kingdom was working hard in order to ensure fair trials, improve detention conditions, and empower women.

This week, UN rights experts announced that “Saudi Arabia is using its counter-terrorism laws to silence activists, in violation of international law guaranteeing freedom of speech.”

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