U.N. rapporteur on Khashoggi death: ‘Silence is not an option’

A United Nations special rapporteur says the United States and allies must do more to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Members of the activist group Code Pink demonstrate outside the White House on October 19, 2018, to call attention to the disappearance and death of Saudi Arabia journalist Jamal Khashoggi. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch

Agnes Callamard, who focuses on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, told reporters in London Tuesday a U.N. report last month showed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials were individually liable for Khashoggi’s death last fall at a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey.

“Silence is not an option,” she said. “Speaking up is required but not enough. We have to act.”

Callamard said in her June 19 report Khashoggi was tortured before his Oct. 1 death, and a violation of international law the Vienna Convention.

Khashoggi went to the consulate for documents he needed for his planned wedding to fiancée Hatice Cengiz.

“Take this report more seriously,” she said at the news conference Tuesday. “It’s too dangerous to behave as if nothing has happened.”

Callamard, also the director of global freedom of expression at Columbia University, emphasized in a Washington Post op-ed the trial of 11 people connected to Khashoggi’s death is closed to the public.

“[The trial] is unlikely to deliver real justice,” she wrote. “While five unnamed defendants face the death penalty, top Saudi officials have not been investigated or charged in Khashoggi’s brutal, premeditated killing.”

Callamard said those involved in the dissident journalist’s death had access to private jets, diplomatic clearances, the Saudi consular staff and a forensic doctor as part of their elaborate plot.

“Khashoggi’s murder is not a Saudi domestic matter,” Callamard added. “He was a journalist and U.S. resident who was extrajudicially killed in Turkish territory. Saudi Arabia committed an unlawful extraterritorial act aimed at violating freedom of expression, threatened the sanctity of consular relations and interfered with the interests of the international community as a whole.”

U.S. officials and Western governments have blamed certain members of the Saudi regime for Khashoggi’s death. U.S. leaders have been careful about accusing the crown prince, however, due to the decades-long ally relationship between Riyadh and Washington, D.C.

ByClyde Hughes