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UN human rights expert: International community failing to ensure justice in Kashoggi killing

The international community is failing in its duty to punish those responsible for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard told a press briefing in Brussels on Tuesday (December 3.)

“I want to denounce the seemingly unwillingness and passivity of the international community to hold Saudi Arabia to account for the killing. It was a state execution, not a rogue operation,” said Ms. Callamard, who is UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions who is in Brussels with EU decision makers to update them about her work.

Mr. Khashoggi, who was killed at the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul in October 2018, was the victim of a premeditated extrajudicial execution, a report published by the Special Rapporteur in June of this year found. The report stated that the State of Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing, with 15 agents using state means to execute Mr. Khashoggi.

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of Mr. Khashoggi, was present at the press briefing and called for an objective and open criminal investigation.

“Whoever is guilty, we want them to lose sleep over this,” she told reporters. “I’ve lost my loved one. I saw the response of the international community and that nothing was being done, so I saw a personal responsibility to take action and speak up.”

Ms. Callamard urged for greater tools and instruments within the international community to better fight such arbitrary killings in the future. The UN expert also called for a standing investigatory instrument with a range of mandates, including the capacity to investigate targeted killings of journalists and human rights defenders for the purpose of prosecution.

Agnès Callamard, Hatice Cengiz and UN Human Rights staff speaking at Brussels Press Club
Regional Representative for Europe, UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), Birgit Van Hout; UN Special Rapporteur, Agnès Callamard; Fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, at press briefing in Brussels

“There is a gap in the international system, and that’s a gap that Jamal Khashoggi has revealed. We must now ensure this gap is addressed, as part of delivering justice for Mr. Khashoggi,” she told reporters. Ms. Callamard is also working on the establishment of a taskforce which would give special rapporteurs a greater capacity to prevent and respond to violations such as targeted killings.

The Special Rapporteur’s June report into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing called upon Saudi Arabia to release individuals imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their opinion and belief. For Ms. Cengiz, giving a voice to these people would provide some form of justice to her fiancé.

“There is no justice for Jamal; he’s not coming back. He used to strive for the ones who are voiceless in his country, so we can give some voice to them. If this is resolved in any matter, at least we will achieve something on his behalf,” she said.

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