Saudi Arabia: MEP Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL) and Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) issued two separate parliamentary questions on the case of Jamal Khashoggi

On the 17th and on the 24th of October 2018 MEP Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL) and Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) wrote two separate parliamentary questions on the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2nd 2018 at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul was widely criticized by the international community. This event has shed light on the ongoing human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The country has continued to arrest, prosecute and imprison journalists, political activists and human rights defenders solely on the basis of their public criticism towards the country’s government. Hence, systematically violating the right of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

As a reminder, Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist, reporter and author, he was the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of Al Arab News Channel. He began his career as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette Daily, continuing his career as a journalist for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers until 1990. He was appointed as a foreign correspondent to cover events on Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the Middle East from 1991 to 1999.  Khashoggi served as editor for the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al Watan, considered the pioneering reformist newspaper in Saudi Arabia. For decades, he was close to the Saudi royal family also serving as an adviser to the government until Khashoggi criticized the arrests of human rights defenders and the reform plans of the Crown Prince, and lived self-imposed exile in the US.

On September 2018 he first visited the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to obtain certifying documents of his divorce and later returned to the Consulate on October 2nd. Khashoggi entered in order to obtain documents for his planned marriage and as no camera recorded his exit from the Consulate he was declared missing. Saudi Arabia consistently denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance claiming that the reports on his disappearance or possible death were false accusations.

Turkish officials soon claimed there was evidence that he was murdered in the Consulate, but Saudi officials did not admit he had been murdered until more than two weeks later. Saudi’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir declared that the killing of the journalist was part of a rogue operation from authorities inside the Consulate, declaring that they had done a tremendous mistake.

His death has put Saudi’s authorities under international spotlight which has created the opportunity to put an end to the ongoing human rights violations in the country.  Because of the international criticism around this case also the European Parliament and its Members mobilized themselves around it. On the 25thof October 2018, the European Parliament approved a Resolution on this matter by condemning the use of torture and Khashoggi’s death. The Resolution also called for an independent investigation and, on those responsible, to be identified and brought to justice.

During that same month, MEP Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL) and Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) wrote two separate parliamentary questions on this case. MEP Stelios Kouloglou’s (GUE/NGL) question to HR/VP Federica Mogherini focused on accountability measures and on EU Member States (MS) involved in the arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kouloglou’s question to Ms. Mogherini in fact, was centered around the arms sales issues and highlighted that not only do EU MS sell military equipment to Saudi Arabia but that also President Trump has stated that it will not impose “US sanctions on the oil-rich kingdom, claiming that the Saudis were spending USD 110 billion on US military equipment.”

Hence, in light of these facts, MEP Stelios Kouloglou’s (GUE/NGL) asked the following question:

  1. Is the EU considering imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia?

A few days later, Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) also addressed the EU Commission on this case. In his question, he also denounced Khashoggi’s death and emphasized that the perpetrators should be held accountable of their actions, highlighting that “verbal condemnation”. will have no effect on the perpetuators. As did Mr. Kouloglou, Mr. Szejnfeld stressed on the fact that “democratic states in the world ought to review their policies with regards to Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of introducing sanctions”. Therefore, he asked the following question:

  1. I wish to inquire as to the steps that the Commission intends to take in order to uncover, in cooperation with other partners, all the facts related to this heinous crime and to persecute its perpetrators?

The reply of HR/VP Ms. Mogherini was similar for both questions. In her answers, she highlighted that she issued two Declarations on behalf of the European Union concerning this specific case. The first one was on the 20th of October 2018, after the announcement of the killing and the second one was one month later, precisely on the 17thof November 2018following the announcement by the Saudi Prosecutor. She further emphasizes that in both accounts the EU called for more accountability and through, credible and transparent investigations.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the Parliamentary Questions issues by Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) and Stelios Kouloglou’s (GUE/NGL) on the death of Jamal Khashoggi and EU’s monitoring of the developments around this case. We share concerns over the ongoing detoriation of human rights in Saudi Arabia and over the increased number of arms exports to the country clearly violating international public and humanitarian law conventions. We therefore call on the EU to coordinate with international partners, once the results of the investigation emerge, to find the most appropriate action to undertake. ECDHR further urges the EU Council to adopt a unanimous decision on arms trade embargo on Saudi Arabia and closely monitor the Kingdom’s lack of commitment and compliance to its obligations under the UN Conventions and international human rights standards.


Please find below a full copy of the question of MEP Stelios Kouloglou’s (GUE/NGL) and the response of HR/VP Federica Mogherini.

Question for written answer to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative), submitted by MEP Stelios Kouloglou’s (GUE/NGL) on October 17 2018.

It has been more than ten days since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. New evidence has suggested that he was tortured to death.

According to the Washington Post(1), Turkish officials have audio and video evidence pointing to Saudis killing and even dismembering the journalist.

At a time when journalists, writers and bloggers increasingly find themselves intimidated, and are even being murdered, both within the EU and abroad, it is essential that those responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance are held to account.

At the same time, President Trump said there would be no US sanctions on the oil-rich kingdom, claiming that the Saudis were spending USD 110 billion on US military equipment. Some EU Member States have also been selling military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Is the EU considering imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia?

Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Mogherini, on January 16 2019.

Immediately after the announcement of the killing of Mr Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) reacted on 20 October 2018 with a Declaration on behalf of the EU reiterating the call for a full, credible and transparent investigation to establish the precise circumstances of the death of the journalist and clearly ascertain the responsibilities.

The ensuing EP debate on the case held on 23 October 2018 showed a clear consensus among European political groups on the need to maintain international pressure and continue seeking full transparency in the investigations as well as accountability. A further Declaration by the HR/VP on behalf of the EU was issued on 17 November 2018 following announcements by the Saudi Prosecutor.

The HR/VP is closely monitoring developments, and together with the EU Member States within the Foreign Affairs Council, will consider the most appropriate action, in coordination with international partners, once the results of the investigation emerge.

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Please find below a full copy of the question of MEP Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) and the response of HR/VP Federica Mogherini.

Question for written answer to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative), submitted by MEP Adam Szejnfeld (PPE) on October 24 2018.

One would be hard pressed to overstate the significance of mass media for modern day societies. Which is why one must be disturbed by the number of journalists murdered worldwide in relation to their work, and the fact that many such crimes remain unsolved!

Most recently, the public has been shaken by the news of the brutal murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi known for his critical views of the government in Riyadh. What is particularly unsettling in this case is the fact that the murder, indeed apparently a thoroughly planned execution, was committed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul — an institution which citizens of a given country are supposed to consider a safe haven rather than a potential venue for persecution and murder!

The described events must be decisively and firmly condemned but that will not be enough. It is clear that in cases like this, the perpetrators are unlikely to be moved by any ‘verbal condemnation’. Were it to be confirmed that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was indeed instigated by Saudi special forces on orders received from Riyadh, the EU, the USA, as well as all other democratic states in the world ought to review their policies with regard to Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of introducing sanctions. Violations of human rights must not be tolerated solely due to the fact that the same are committed in allied states.

Therefore, I wish to inquire as to the steps that the Commission intends to take in order to uncover, in cooperation with other partners, all the facts related to this heinous crime and to persecute its perpetrators?

Answer given by High Representative/Vice President Mogherini, on January 17 2019.

The EU position with regard to the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been stated clearly by the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) in two Declarations issued on behalf of the European Union.

The first was on 20 October 2018(1) after the announcement of the killing and the second one on 17 November 2018(2) following announcements by the Saudi Prosecutor.

In these Declarations the EU called for a thorough, credible and transparent investigation and advocated accountability for all those responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s murder.

The HR/VP is closely monitoring developments, and together with the EU Member States within the Foreign Affairs Council, will consider the most appropriate action, in coordination with international partners, once the results of the investigation emerge.

 

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