Geneva, Switzerland – Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has called for an international probe into his murder, days after a United Nations expert report blamed Saudi Arabia for his killing inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
“This is the first report that says loud and clear how to proceed,” Cengiz said on Tuesday, addressing diplomats and media at the United Nations in the Swiss city of Geneva.
“We need an international investigation into Jamal’s murder,” she added. “Not only high-level officials are involved in the killing, but the report says Saudi Arabia has tried to eliminate the evidence of it. It’s scandalous.”
In her 100-page report, which was made public on June 19, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Khashoggi’s death constituted a premeditated extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia was responsible.
Callamard is due to officially present the report to the UN’s Human Rights Council on Wednesday
Speaking at the same event as Cengiz, Callamard said Khashoggi’s killing “is the symbol of a pattern around the world, which the international community must respond to energetically”.
The killing of Khashoggi by a team of Saudi operatives inside the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey’s largest city on October 2 last year provoked outrage worldwide and marred the image of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Khashoggi’s body has never been found.
Cengiz said nearly nine months after the killing, she still has not overcome the trauma of his death.
“I still ask myself if he may still be alive, if he is somewhere,” she said. “I hope the report does not remain dead word, it should not be shelved. The UN must take action now.”
Callamard said Saudi Arabia violated the Vienna Convention on consular relations, the UN charter on the prohibition of the use of force in times of peace as well as the principle of the right to life.
“The world cannot turn a blind eye. All these violations make Khashoggi’s killing an international crime and for that reason, the UN and the international community must be able to investigate and be prepared to take the needed actions in response,” she said.
The targeted killings of journalists, dissenters and human-rights defenders, more generally, are on the increase, warned Callamard, adding that the most worrying pattern is the impunity that surrounds those actions.
In addition, exile cannot grant dissidents and journalists immunity or safety from the threats posed by police states, Callamard said, referring to the dangerous rise of states’ surveillance over individuals.
Following the release of the report, UN member states could now request an international investigation to take place into Khashoggi’s murder.
However, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, the secretary-general of the No Peace Without Justice NGO, was doubtful of the international community’s readiness to challenge Saudi Arabia. He said some governments preferred to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in countries where they entertained profitable business relations.
“Unfortunately, extrajudicial executions have entered the tool kit of acceptable practices not only by oppressive governments but also by the international community when it comes to doing business with powerful states,” he said.