Home » Reports » Joint statement at 42nd session of Human Rights Council: 24 nations condemn Saudi Arabia’s widespread and ongoing violations

Joint statement at 42nd session of Human Rights Council: 24 nations condemn Saudi Arabia’s widespread and ongoing violations

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Six months following a statement signed by 36 nations and delivered by Iceland before the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, and amid ongoing disregard for UN appeals, 24 nations repeated their condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations.

In a statement led by Australia and delivered by its representative, Sally Mansfield, under Item 8, the countries affirmed that the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is contrary to international humanitarian law and that countries have a duty to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems.

While the statement welcomed recent reforms in Saudi Arabia, including the announcement lifting restrictions on women’s rights to travel and guardianship of children, it also stressed that these changes must be followed by other reforms in the areas of female employment and education.

The countries noted their continuing deep concern regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia despite the recent reforms, saying that civil society actors in Saudi Arabia continue to face persecution and intimidation. Likewise, human rights advocates, women’s rights activists, and journalists remain in detention or under threat. The statement expressed concern over reports of torture, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, unfair trials, and harassment of individuals involved in the promotion and defense of human rights, and their families and colleagues.

The 24 nations also welcomed the report of Agnès Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, following an important in-depth investigation into the case of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They stressed the importance of establishing the truth and holding accountable those responsible for his death.

In line with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations as an HRC member state, the statement asserted that Saudi Arabia must adhere to the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and must cooperate fully with the HRC, including by accepting visits by special rapporteurs.

The states urged Saudi Arabia to redouble its human rights reform efforts and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. They also called on Saudi Arabia to end impunity for torture and extrajudicial killings and its use of the death penalty.

The ESOHR welcomes the joint statement, considering that it comes in the absence of any prospect for respect of human rights in Saudi Arabia and with the continued detention and threat to the lives of dozens of male and female human rights defenders.

The ESOHR highlights the importance of establishing effective mechanisms for holding violators accountable and pushing Saudi Arabia to comply with all its obligations under the treaties it has ratified and the public statements it has repeated before the HRC.

Signatories to the statement: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom.

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