Australia, Canada and New Zealand join all 28 EU members at the UN asking Riyadh to release 10 activists and cooperate with a UN-led probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi, a writer and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Jamal Khashoggi, a writer and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. (AFP Archive)

Thirty-six nations condemned Saudi Arabia on Thursday over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a rare censure of the oil-rich kingdom at the UN Human Rights Council.

A statement read by Iceland on behalf of a group of states expressed "significant concerns" about reported abuses in Saudi Arabia and demanded justice following Khashoggi's killing.

"Investigations into the killing must be prompt, effective and thorough, independent and impartial, and transparent. Those responsible must be held to account," added the statement read by Iceland's UN ambassador Harald Aspe lund.

TRT World spoke with Geneva-based journalist Julia Lyubova for more details.

'First-ever collective action'

It called on Saudi authorities "to disclose all information available" about its own investigation while cooperating with separate UN inquiries into Khashoggi's death.

The statement was backed by EU states along with Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Human Rights Watch said the statement was "the first-ever collective action" at the council on rights in SaudiArabia, which had successfully evaded criticism at the UN body.

HRW's Geneva director John Fisher called it "a landmark step toward justice" and urged "more scrutiny" of the country.

Riyadh rejects 'attack on our sovereignty'

Responding to the statement, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN in Geneva condemned the use of "joint statements for political causes."

"Interference in domestic affairs under the guise of defending human rights is in fact an attack on our sovereignty," ambassador Abdulaziz Alwasil said.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia initially said it had no knowledge of his fate.

It has since blamed rogue agents for Khashoggi's death and the kingdom's public prosecutor has charged 11 people over his murder.

Full UN probe

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, is conducting an inquiry into the killing.

But Callamard is an independent human rights expert who does not speak for the UN and calls have mounted for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to push for a full UN-backed probe.

List of countries supporting the Joint Statement
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Source: AFP