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First rebuke of Saudi Arabia at UN rights forum

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 7, 2019 - Duration: 01:32s

First rebuke of Saudi Arabia at UN rights forum

Three dozen countries, including all 28 EU members, called on Saudi Arabia on Thursday to release 10 activists and cooperate with a U.N.-led investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate.

Francesca Lynagh reports.

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First rebuke of Saudi Arabia at UN rights forum

Three dozen countries, including all 28 EU members, issued Saudi Arabia with its first rebuke at a UN rights forum on Thursday (March 7) - calling on the kingdom to release 10 activists.

The detained women - some of whom campaigned for the right to drive - have allegedly been subject to electric shocks, flogging, sexual assault, and other forms of torture.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ICELAND AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.

IN GENEVA HARALD ASPELUND SAYING: "We are particularly concerned about the use of the counter-terrorism law and other national security provisions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights and freedoms.'' In a joint statement, the countries also called on Saudi Arabia to cooperate with a U.N.-led investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ICELAND AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.

IN GENEVA HARALD ASPELUND SAYING: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul.

Investigations into the killing must be independent and transparent.

Those responsible must be held to account." The statement was also signed by Canada and Australia, and marked the first first move against the kingdom at the U.N.

Human Rights Council since it was set up in 2006.

Those in the non-signing camp included the USA, Turkey, Israel, and Switzerland.

There was no immediate Saudi reaction.

But last week the country's deputy public prosecutor told a Saudi-owned newspaper that his office had looked into media reports that the detained women were tortured and found no evidence, and called the reports "false."

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