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Riyadh Says UN Report on Khashoggi Case Has Obvious Contradictions

Sputnik News

15:57 19.06.2019(updated 18:06 19.06.2019)

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said in a Wednesday report that she did not find sufficient evidence Ankara or Washington could have known of any real danger to the life of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

"Special Rapporteur has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that either Turkey or the United States knew, or ought to have known, of a real and imminent or foreseeable threat to Mr Khashoggi's life", Agnes Callamard concluded in a report.

Callamard said in her report that "credible evidence" existed to warrant further investigation into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level Saudi officials over their alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The Special Rapporteur has determined that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's. She [the rapporteur] warns against a disproportionate emphasis on identifying who ordered the crime, pointing out that the search for justice and accountability is not singularly dependent on finding a smoking gun and the person holding it. The search is also, if not primarily, about identifying those who, in the context of the commission of a violation, have abused, or failed to fulfill, the responsibilities of their positions of authority", the report said.

Callamard recommended in her report on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that the UN Security Council convene an informal meeting on the implications of the case.

The rapporteur suggested that the members of the UNSC should "convene an Arria-formula meeting to consider the implications for peace and stability of the execution of Khashoggi and more generally of the extraterritorial targeting of individuals."

The UN Special Rapporteur recommended that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres open a follow-up investigation into the case.

"[We recommend that United Nations Secretary General] initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Mr Khashoggi to build-up strong files on each of the alleged perpetrators and identify mechanisms for formal accountability, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal. The Secretary General himself should be able to establish an international follow-up criminal investigation without any trigger by a State", the report said.

Later in the day, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir rejected the UN report saying that it had 'baseless allegations'.

"Nothing new...," tweeted Adel al-Jubeir. "The report of the rapporteur in the human rights council contains clear contradictions and baseless allegations which challenge its credibility."

Report Conclusions

The death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, was a premeditated extrajudicial murder for which Saudi Arabia is responsible, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of the UN Human Rights Council concluded in a report released on Wednesday.

"Mr Khashoggi's killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible. His attempted kidnapping would also constitute a violation under international human rights law, a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (thereafter VCCR) and of the prohibition against the extra-territorial use of force in time of peace, may constitute an act of torture under the terms of the Convention Against Torture, an enforced disappearance since the location of his remains has not been established", Agnes Callamard concluded.

According to the report, the journalist "has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law."

The report has demanded, "that those responsible be identified and held to account for their role in the execution of Mr Khashoggi."

The rapporteur listed four potentially credible hypotheses related to Khashoggi's death – "1) premeditated killing; 2) kidnapping with premeditated killing if kidnapping proved impossible or unsuccessful; 3) the result of an accident in the course of kidnapping; 4) a decision to kill on site by members of the Saudi team."

All four hypotheses "would point to a crime constituting a serious human rights violation," the report said.

"[Callamard] has reached the conclusion that either the first or second hypothesis is the most credible," the report added.

Callamard called on Saudi Arabia to apologise to the family and friends of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and pay compensation for his death.

"[We recommend that Saudi Arabia] issue a public recognition and apology to Mr Khashoggi's family, friends and colleagues for his execution. Accountability demands that the Saudi Arabia government accept State responsibility for the execution. This also includes State-based financial reparations for the family of Mr. Khashoggi," Callamard said in a report on the case.

The special rapporteur recommended in her report that targeted sanctions against people and entities suspected of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi must continue, adding that the punitive measures should also be extended to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"Targeted sanctions against the individuals and/or entities in Saudi Arabia that were likely involved in the murder of Mr Khashoggi must continue. However, in view of the credible evidence into the responsibilities of the Crown Prince for his murder, such sanctions ought also to include the Crown Prince and his personal assets abroad, until and unless evidence is provided and corroborated that he carries no responsibilities for this execution," Agnes Callamard said in the report.

She welcomed the sanctions imposed by the United States shortly after the murder on 17 suspected perpetrators, noting, however, that their impact was "questionable."

"It is difficult to escape the impression that these particular sanctions against 17 or more individuals may act as a smokescreen, diverting attention away from those actually responsible. The current sanctions simply fail to address the central questions of chain of command and of senior leadership's responsibilities for and associated with the execution," Callamard added.

Handling of the investigation by Saudi Arabia and Turkey

Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's investigations into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi both "failed to meet international standards", Callamard said in Wednesday's report.

"The Special Rapporteur has found that both the investigations conducted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths", the report read.

According to the rapporteur, there is "credible evidence pointing to the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned."

"These indicate that the Saudi investigation was not conducted in good faith, and that it may amount to obstructing justice," the report said.

Saudi Arabia placed certain restrictions on the Turkish probe that, according to the rapporteur, "cannot be justified by the need to protect Consular operations."

"Turkey's fear over an escalation of the situation and retribution meant that the consular residences or consular cars were also not searched without permission even though they are not protected by the VCCR," the rapporteur said.

She expressed regret that "it appears no international body or other State came forward with an offer to "mediate" between the two parties to negotiate prompt and effective access to the crime scene."

Callamard said that while a trial over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, currently underway in Saudi Arabia, was a crucial step toward accountability, it failed to meet specific procedural and substantive standards and therefore should be suspended.

"The on-going trial in Saudi Arabia of 11 suspects in the killing of Mr Khashoggi, while an important step towards accountability, fails to meet procedural and substantive standards. The trial is held behind closed doors; the identity of those charged has not been released nor is the identity of those facing death penalty. At the time of writing, at least one of those identified as responsible for the planning and organizing of the execution of Mr Khashoggi has not been charged," the report read.

In view of these concerns, Callamard called for the suspension of the trial.

Riyadh had initially denied any involvement in the murder, but later admitted that Khashoggi had indeed been killed inside the embassy, charging 11 people for the crime.


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