By Bayram Altug
GENEVA (AA) - A group of over 20, mostly western countries, condemned Saudi Arabia on Monday over human rights violations and the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
In a joint statement read by Australia's Permanent Representative in the UN Geneva Office, Sally Mansfield told the UN Human Rights Council that truth must be established and accountability achieved for Khashoggi's loved ones as well as to ensure the principles of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action.
The statement said it acknowledged UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions for her "detailed and important" investigation into the matter.
"We are deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia," the statement stressed.
It said that civil society actors in the kingdom still faced persecution and intimidation.
"We urge Saudi Arabia to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the [UN Human Rights] Council," it added.
Saudi Arabia admitted on Wednesday that the murder of Washington Post columnist Khashoggi in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul was a "stain" for the kingdom.
Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2, 2018 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts after he went missing but later attempted to blame his death on a team of rogue operatives carrying out a botched rendition operation.
Khashoggi, according to reports by the UN and other independent organizations, was murdered and dismembered, very likely on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
* Writing and contribution by Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara