The United States said this week it was pleased to hear of Saudi Arabia’s leadership role on a United Nations Human Rights Council advisory group.
“We would welcome it. We’re close allies,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
He spoke after a blog post by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer last week indicated that in 2015, Saudi Arabia had been one of five ambassadors on a key advisory panel to the UNHRC. The body, which is known as the Consultative Group, has since June been chaired by Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal bin Hassan Trad.
While a new group of ambassadors will be appointed for 2016, Neuer’s piece made headlines around the world because of Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record.
“It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” Neuer said.
“Saudi Arabia has arguably the worst record in the world when it comes to religious freedom and women’s rights, and continues to imprison the innocent blogger Raif Badawi,” Neuer added. Badawi also faces a flogging sentence of 1,000 lashes.