ISSN 2330-717X

UN: The Khashoggi Murder Points To The Saudis


UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s finding places the blame for the columnist’s death squarely on Saudi Arabia with a recommendation to investigate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for personal liability over the murder.

More than eight months after his death, the quest for justice over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi continues.

In the latest development, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard announced the findings of her six-month investigation into the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

The report is expected to add to the pressure on Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who is believed to have ordered the killing, according to Western intelligence agencies, including the CIA.

Here we look at some of the main conclusions from Callamard’s report:

Saudi Arabia is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Callamard does not mince her words. She calls Khashoggi’s murder an extrajudicial killing the Saudi state should be held accountable for. 

The onus is on Saudi Arabia, which is liable for the killing irrespective of whether it was intended or not, she argues. 

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations defines protections for diplomats and consular buildings operating within a foreign sovereign state.

The treaty places responsibilities on the host nation, such as allowing diplomats to go about their work unimpeded, as well as a state’s diplomatic mission, such avoiding criminal activity.

Callamard concluded that the extra-territorial use of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to kill Khashoggi was a violation of the treaty.

Saudi Arabia has ratified the UN convention preventing the use of torture. Its treatment and eventual killing of Khashoggi may constitute a violation of the statute, according to Callamard.

MBS should be investigated for personal liability over the killing

The UN special rapporteur said there were “credible” grounds for an investigation into whether the crown prince bears responsibility.

Callamard found “credible” evidence that the Saudi consulate had been forensically cleaned in what may amount to an “obstruction of justice”.

Turkish investigators had six hours’ access to the consulate and 13 hours’ access to consul’s residence, during which time they were only allowed to carry out ‘swabbing’ and could not drain a well located in the residence.

Callamard’s report states: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken timid steps towards addressing its State responsibilities in terms of prosecution and reparation.”

The special rapporteur believes that Khashoggi’s murder was an international crime and that states should have universal jurisdiction to prosecute those involved.

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