The recent US intelligence report which concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has put mounting pressure to hold Saudi Arabia’s authorities to account over the murder, Amnesty International said.
Other long-standing human rights violations against journalists, critics and human rights defenders have also been highlighted as the new US administration affirmed the importance it places on universal human rights and the rule of law.
The publication of the report led the US government to issue sanctions against a number of Saudi officials but stopped short of imposing sanctions on the Crown Prince.
Days later, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) lodged a complaint with German Public Prosecutor General targeting the Crown Prince and other high-ranking Saudi officials over Jamal Khashoggi’s extrajudicial execution and the wider persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia.
“More than two years after the state-sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi his family still have no information about the whereabouts of his remains while high-level officials continue to escape justice, and are free to continue their brutal crackdown on peaceful dissidents,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Yet Khashoggi’s case has not been forgotten and is now in the spotlight again. It has never been more urgent to hold those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing to account.”
“Genuine accountability could have huge implications for the many human rights defenders unjustly detained and persecuted in Saudi Arabia, as well as exiled Saudi Arabian activists in the diaspora.”
Amnesty International has repeatedly emphasized that the closed trial in Saudi Arabia which convicted eight people over Jamal Khashgoggi’s killing lacked credibility and transparency.
As such, the organization has consistently called for an international, independent and impartial investigation, identifying all those involved, however high their rank or status, to ensure that those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing are brought to justice.
Khashoggi’s forcible disappearance, torture and extrajudicial execution are crimes under international law, which may be investigated and prosecuted by any state.
“The brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi must be understood in the context of the Saudi government’s systematic crackdown against journalists, human rights defenders, and others in civil society. This chillingly orchestrated campaign to crush dissidents and political opponents inside and outside of the country – including the arrest and torture of women human rights defenders – has for years occurred under the direction of the highest levels of the Saudi government,” said HebaMorayef.
“Saudi Arabian authorities must take immediate action to release dozens of peaceful critics and human rights defenders who have been unjustly imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing their opinions.”
Amnesty International has documented at least 47 cases of people in Saudi Arabia serving prison sentences of up to 30 years for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
They include women’s rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul who was recently conditionally released on probation. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)