Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is facing a barrage of criticism over a meeting she had with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the G20 summit in Japan.
Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, who has been investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, accused Maxima of complicity by not discussing the case with the crown prince.
“If you do not speak and do not demand justice, it suggests that you have no concerns,” Callamard told Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad on Saturday.
In her investigation, Callamard said Bin Salman should be investigated over the killing of Khashoggi, citing “credible evidence“.
In her long-anticipated report, which was released earlier this month, Callamard said Khashoggi’s death “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible”.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His remains have yet to be found.
Maxima was attending the summit in Osaka in her capacity as the UN secretary-general’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development. She spoke with Bin Salman on Friday about microcredit and helping women to set up businesses.
The murder of Khashoggi was not discussed during the interview, according to the Dutch daily, citing a statement from the Dutch government information service, RVD.
“That is more than disappointing,” Callamard told Algemeen Dagblad. “It is one thing to meet this man, it is something else to remain silent. At this point, silence equals complicity.”
Callamard told the Algemeen Dagblad she found it incomprehensible that Maxima did not raise the issue in her conversation with the prince.
“Silence, turning a blind eye, a ‘business as usual approach’ towards the increasingly aggressive tactics of too many autocrats; those are not the characteristics of leadership that we should expect.”
The RVD said it was customary for the queen to have a conversation with the host of the next G20 summit, which is Saudi Arabia.
“The conversation between Queen Maxima and Prince Mohammed bin Salman was conducted under the responsibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as usual in international performances by members of the Royal House,” Algemeen Dagblad cited the RVD. “The cabinet was aware of the conversation.”
US President Donald Trump also faced questions about his sit-down with Bin Salman at the G20 in Japan, his first face-to-face meeting since the US intelligence community concluded that the crown prince directed the killing of the Washington Post columnist.
Trump, who called Bin Salman his “friend”, has long sought to minimise the crown prince’s role in the killing and has been reluctant to criticise the killing of the critic.
Trump views the kingdom as the lynchpin of his Middle East strategy to counter Iran. At the news conference on Saturday, Trump was asked by a reporter if he agreed it was “despicable” for a government to kill a journalist.
Trump replied: “Yes, I do. I think it’s horrible. Or anybody else, by the way. And if you look at Saudi Arabia, you see what’s happening, thirteen people, or so, have been prosecuted. Others are being prosecuted. They’ve taken it very, very seriously. And they will continue to.”
Callamard said the ongoing trial in Saudi Arabia was not carried out in “good faith”.
“Overall it does not meet international standards,” she said.
Only 11 out of 15 operatives who were at the consulate were being indicted, but their names and their charges have not been made public, said Callamard.
She said the chain of command’s responsibility was not being investigated and the trial’s proceedings were contradicting the statements made by the public prosecutor.
“For those who want to see a proper criminal trial taking place, an official request should be undertaken by the UN secretary-general upon the request of at least one member state,” she said.