Geneva – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties expresses its regret over the lack of seriousness of the investigations being conducted by Saudi Arabia authorities over the murder of the well-known journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside his country’s consulate in October 2018.
The Geneva Council warns of a Saudi policy that is actually being implemented to cover up the perpetrators in the Khashoggi killing case and to protect those responsible from judicial accountability, even though the crime is an extrajudicial execution.
The Geneva Council was informed of reports that the royal court adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, who was dismissed from his post in connection with the Khashoggi killing, was not among 11 suspects being tried in secret in Riyadh despite Saudi Arabia’s pledge to hold the culprits accountable.
The Saudi attorney-general charged 11 unidentified suspects in last November and demanded that five of them be sentenced to death for ordering and carrying out the crime. Sources familiar with the ongoing trial said that, according to the Reuters news agency, al-Qahtani was not on trial and had not appeared in any of the four sessions held since January.
Jamal Khashoggi, a newspaper columnist for the Middle East and the Washington Post and a well-known opponent of the Saudi regime, disappeared on October 2, 2018, after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which drew wide international criticism.
After changing its interpretation of Khashoggi’s disappearance more than once, the Saudi government finally acknowledged on 19 October 2018 that he had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
A few days ago, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) issued a red warrant for the arrest of 20 suspects believed to have been involved in Khashoggi’s murder, including al-Qahtani, at the request of the Turkish government.
The Geneva council said it feared the court proceedings in Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s case were still purely formal and did not include the arrest or trial of senior officials accused of involvement in the crime, including al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri.
He said that the Saudi reluctance is an extension of Riyadh’s policy of repressing and persecuting opponents, and prosecuting human rights activists, journalists and bloggers by harassing them, arbitrarily arresting them and even exposing them to illegal enforced disappearance.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties reiterated its call for an independent and effective international investigation into the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder as well as for the prosecution of all those responsible, including those who ordered his death and planned the crime.
The Geneva Council also called for an effective role for the United Nations, particularly the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, in uncovering the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder and ensuring that all those responsible are brought to justice.
At the same time, the International Human Rights Council urged serious and effective international intervention to force Saudi authorities to change their behavior and their
suppression of public freedoms in the Kingdom, including the immediate release of opponents, activists, journalists and preachers detained for peacefully expressing their views and defending human rights