The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has welcomed a United Nations report calling on both the head of the U.N. and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to open criminal probes into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The report by Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the disappearance of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”
She urged the FBI to investigate the murder and called on the U.S. government to determine whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could be held responsible under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the prince, was a U.S. permanent resident and columnist for The Washington Post.
“This report is an important first step on the road to justice for Jamal Khashoggi,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “It lays responsibility for the butchering of an independent journalist at the door of the House of Saud. The U.S. government and U.N. member states have a moral duty to implement its recommendations. Failure to do so sends the message that journalists can be murdered with impunity.”
The report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva criticized initial investigations into the killing by Saudi and Turkish officials for failing to meet international standards. Callamard urged Turkey to officially request U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to open a criminal investigation and release whatever evidence it had. She noted, however, that Guterres could start such an investigation even without a trigger by a U.N. member state.
“The national and international tools to forge justice in this case are already there,” said Mahoney. “The U.S. and U.N. must now summon the political will to use them.”