Days after the HRC adopted a detailed resolution on the safety of journalists at its 39th session last September, Saudi Arabia, an HRC Member State that joined consensus, sent a hit squad to its consulate in Istanbul to murder Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It was a pre-meditated murder of a journalist, carried out by persons in their official capacities, and likely ordered at the highest levels, for which the government of Saudi Arabia is responsible.
It was a crime against freedom of expression.
Its chilling effect was intended to be global – impacting in particular all those who have sought sanctuary from repression abroad, believing distance would give them safety.
It was so brazen because Saudi Arabia knew it would most likely enjoy impunity for it.
ARTICLE 19 therefore applauds Special Rapporteur Callamard’s tenacity in pursuing the truth in this case, in the face of inaction and prevarication from all other international actors.
It is clear that national trials, being conducted in such secrecy that we do not know for certain the identities of those being prosecuted. This absence of information is enough to confirm the proceedings do not meet fair trial standards. That Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman and Saud Alqatani, are not among those facing trial, speaks for itself.
We believe the time to act was last October, and we support the Special Rapporteur that it is open for the Secretary General to initiate a criminal investigation. We would welcome Turkey specifically calling for this, as soon as possible.
We also fully support fully the Special Rapporteur’s three-part recommendations, to (i) set stronger standards rooted in best practice on reaction to threats, including investigations; (ii) establish an SR task force to respond to situations; and (iii) to establish a standing instrument to support international criminal investigations.
We reiterate that if Saudi Arabia is to demonstrate that it will not repeat violations of the right to life and the right to freedom of expression, it must release all those currently detained for the exercise of their rights. This Council should act without delay to establish a monitoring mechanism on the human rights situation in the country, in follow-up to the joint statement led by Iceland.
Lastly – we ask the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on how privately developed surveillance technologies, like Pegasus Spyware marketed by the NSO group, has allowed countries like Saudi Arabia to extend authoritarianism and violence beyond their borders.