Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi murder: UN says

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: A UN report on Wednesday said the murder last fall in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “constituted an extrajudicial killing” for which “Saudi Arabia is responsible.”

In the report, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said she found “credible evidence” to further probe Saudi officials’ individual liability in the Khashoggi killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, including Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“Targeted sanctions against the individuals and/or entities in Saudi Arabia that were likely involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi must continue,” the report advised, adding: “However, in view of the credible evidence into the responsibilities of the Crown Prince for his murder, such sanctions ought also to include the Crown Prince and his personal assets abroad, until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution.”

“The Special Rapporteur recognizes the political sensitivity of this matter, but stresses that under the laws of immunity and inviolability there is no prohibition against sanctioning individuals holding positions such as that of the Crown Prince,” Callamard said.

-Violations of international law

The report also found that Khashoggi’s murder was an extrajudicial killing and his attempted kidnapping would constitute a violation under international human rights law and may even constitute an act of torture under the rules of the convention against torture. Furthermore, the manner in which he was detained and treated shortly before he was murdered would also constitute a violation of international human rights law, it said.

Moreover, an investigation conducted by Saudi Arabia was not carried out in good faith and could amount to obstructing justice after credible evidence was found that pointed to the crime scene being thoroughly cleaned, said the report.

The special rapporteur demanded that the trial of the 11 suspects in Saudi Arabia be suspended over concerns about the lack of credibility and secrecy over the trials.

The report emphasized that, up to now, Saudi Arabia has failed to publicly recognize its responsibility for killing Khashoggi and has failed to offer an apology to the family, friends and colleagues of the Washington Post journalist for his death and the gruesome manner in which he was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia also imposed severe limitations on the Turkish investigation by giving Turkish investigators limited access both in time and the areas they were able to access.

For instance, the Turkish investigation had access to the consulate on Oct. 15 for only six hours and the consul’s residence on Oct. 17 for 13 hours in which their forensic enquiries were limited to only swabbing.

Urging the kingdom to apologize to Turkey for “the abuse of its diplomatic privileges and the violation of the prohibition against extra territorial use of force,” the report also prompted further investigations by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the FBI.

The rapporteur also learned that Khashoggi’s children were offered a financial compensation package by the Saudi government, but there were questions whether it amounts to compensation under international human rights law.

The special rapporteur’s report added: “Mr Khashoggi’s execution is emblematic of a global pattern of targeted killing of, and threats against, journalists and media workers that is regularly denounced by states, UN agencies, special procedures, and by numerous international and national human rights organisations.”

The report included parts of recorded conversation Khashoggi had with Saudi officials in the embassy just minutes before his death.

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul last Oct. 2.

Riyadh offered various, conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building, seeking to blame his death on a botched rendition operation by rogue agents. (AA)