Jamal Khashoggi, prominent Saudi journalist, was killed on 2 October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. On 19 June 2019, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Agnès Callamard has released a report about his murder.
The report’s main conclusion describes Jamal Khashoggi as “the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible.” Furthermore, there is credible evidence linking Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder.
The report highlights that the Saudi investigation which involves the trial of 11 alleged perpetrators does not meet international standards. Similarly, the Turkish authorities failed to properly investigate the case. Agnès Callamard is under the impression that these trials constitute a smokescreen from holding the real culprits accountable. As a matter of fact, the report states that “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken timid steps towards addressing its State responsibilities in terms of prosecution and reparation.” As a result, the Special Rapporteur calls on the UN or Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “demand” a follow-up criminal investigation into the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.
The investigation conducted by Agnès Callamard established that Khashoggi was injected a sedative and suffocated with a plastic bag before being dismembered. These statements rely on a 45-minute audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate. Nevertheless, the whereabouts of the body have not been found yet.
The report stresses out the killing of Mr. Khashoggi constituted a “violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and of the prohibition against the extra-territorial use of force in time of peace (customary law and UN Charter).” Furthermore, the particularly violent circumstances of his death and the attempted kidnapping may constitute a violation of the Convention Against Torture (CAT) – to which Saudi Arabia adhered to – and International Human Rights Law. Moreover, the killing of a journalist goes against the core tenet of the United Nations and directly targets the right to freedom of expression.
The Special Rapporteur states there is “insufficient evidence” to suggest that Turkey or the United States knew or could have foreseen the threat to Khashoggi; in any case, the report also stresses out that Khashoggi’s life was not at risk in his countries of residence, namely the US or Turkey. While there was credible evidence to suggest that if Mr. Khashoggi had returned to Saudi Arabia, “he would have been detained, possibly disappeared, and harmed.”
Rapidly after the release of the UN report, the Saudi government discarded the allegations referring to them as “unfounded.”
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the outcome of the UN report. ECDHR is calling upon the international community to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia. ECDHR expects that during the next session of the Human Rights Council, further investigations and sanctions will be established.