EU states reject blacklisting Saudi, others over dirty money
BRUSSELS / GENEVA – Reuters
The 28 member states of the European Union all backed a decision on March 7 to reject a proposal from the EU executive to add Saudi Arabia to a blacklist of countries suspected of being lax on terrorist financing and money-laundering.
The Council of the EU said in a statement that the unanimous decision was taken because the European Commission's proposed list, which also included four U.S. territories, "was not established in a transparent and resilient process that actively incentivises affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard".
Riyadh rebuked at UN
Meanwhile, at least 36 countries, including all 28 EU members, have signed a statement criticizing Saudi Arabia's human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 7, diplomats said.
The statement is the first rebuke of the kingdom since the U.N. forum was set up in 2006.
The text, to be read out by Harald Aspelund, Iceland's ambassador to the Geneva talks, calls on Saudi authorities to release women activists and cooperate with a U.N.-led probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2.
"It is a success for Europe to be united on this," an envoy of an EU country told Reuters.
Some of the women, including those who campaigned for the right to drive, have been subjected to electric shocks, flogging, sexual assault and other forms of torture, activists say.
U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Saudi Arabia on March 6 to release women activists allegedly tortured in detention after authorities accused them of harming the country's interests.
The Saudi deputy public prosecutor told Saudi-owned newspaper Alsharq Alawsat last week that his office had looked into media reports that the women were tortured and found no evidence, calling the reports "false".