Photo: Jamal Khashoggi offers remarks on "Mohammed bin Salman's Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look" during Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) on 21 March 2018 in Washington, DC. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. - Photo: 2019

UN Expert Demands from Saudi Arabia Public Trials of Khashoggi’s Accused Killers

By Jamshed Baruah

GENEVA (IDN) – Six months after veteran Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has in a report criticised Riyadh’s closed-door trials of accused killers, which have thus far fallen short of meeting “international standards”.

In her report released on March 28, Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur leading an independent human rights inquiry into Khashoggi’s killing, renews her “request for permission to undertake a country visit to Saudi Arabia”.

The visit would be part of her inquiry into the fate and whereabouts of Khashoggi, to which she “would welcome a positive response.”

The Saudi Government has invited representatives of the permanent members (P5) of the Security Council – USA, Russia, China, Britain and France – to attend at least some court hearings.

Callamard however warns: “They [the P-5] risk being participants in a potential miscarriage of justice; possibly complicit should it be shown that the trials are marred by violations of human rights law”. She asks them to “review their cooperation and insist that the proceedings be made fully open to the public and expert international observers”.

The UN Special Rapporteur says: “The Government of Saudi Arabia will further demonstrate its good faith if it opens its efforts to international review.” She further calls on the Saudi Government to take material steps towards meeting its international obligations in respect to the investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and death and subsequent prosecutions:

  1. Make public both the names of all individuals under prosecution and the details of the charges they face;
  2. Make public all trial proceedings and all evidence against the accused;
  3. Invite international, independent, experts to monitor the trial proceedings;
  4. Make public the details and results of efforts to establish the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains;
  5. Make public the fates of all those initially arrested in relation to the killing of Khashoggi.

Callamard has faulted remarks by Saudi officials, including those made by the Head of the Saudi human rights commission during the March 2019 session of the UN Human Rights Council, and denounced the lack of transparency of the Kingdom’s investigation and legal proceedings.

“The Government of Saudi Arabia is grievously mistaken if it believes that these proceedings, as currently constituted, will satisfy the international community, either in terms of procedural fairness under international standards or in terms of the validity of their conclusions,” she warns.

It appears that initially, 21 individuals were detained by the Government of Saudi Arabia as a consequence of its investigation into the killing of Khashoggi. Eleven of those are currently being tried, five of whom face the death penalty.

“The murder of Mr. Khashoggi was the result of an extrajudicial killing committed in a consulate office on foreign territory,” she says. “Contrary to Saudi Arabia assertions, these are not internal, domestic matters. The rights of the victim and his family are at stake, but so too are the rights of other States under international treaties and law. The investigation and subsequent prosecution should comply with international legal standards and that demands the highest levels of transparency and impartiality.”

The UN Special Rapporteur is of the view that a credible investigation of the killing and its proper resolution before a court of law, requires adjudication of the disappearance and murder, based on international human rights law, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and customary law on the sanctity of sovereign territory.

“Thus far, the Saudi authorities have not even disclosed publicly the identities of the accused; their roles in relation to the government or the details of the charges they face, and have held the court proceedings behind closed doors,” says Callamard in her report.

Agnes Callamard, who hails from France, has a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work globally. She is the Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University and has previously worked with Article 19 and Amnesty International. She has advised multilateral organizations and governments around the world, has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries, and has published extensively on human rights and related fields. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 March 2019]

Photo: Jamal Khashoggi offers remarks on “Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look” during Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) on 21 March 2018 in Washington, DC. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

Send your comment:

Subscribe to IDN Newsletter:

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top