ICJ reiterates call for accountability for killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

At a media event in Bangkok, Thailand, today, the ICJ reiterated its call for Turkey to work with the United Nations to establish a special independent mechanism to carry out an investigation into the killing of Khashoggi with a view to identifying the perpetrators.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FFCT) in Bangkok hosted a special panel discussion entitled Death of a journalist – Fallout from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, which was attended by approximately eighty journalists, diplomats and club members.

On the panel, Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor for Global Accountability, began by making two positive observations, namely that there exists a clear international legal framework which applies to cases of suspected unlawful deaths including extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearance; and that a considerable amount of information about Khashoggi’s fate appears to be available.

He set out the international legal framework that applies to violations of the right to life noting the state duty to conduct a prompt independent, impartial, effective and transparent investigation consistent with the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and the revised 2016 Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.

Kingsley Abbott noted that in nearly all cases where there is reasonable suspicion of unlawful death, an autopsy should be performed and called for Khashoggi’s body or remains to be produced.

Kate Vigneswaran, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Programme, discussed options for accountability in the MENA region, in particular in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

She noted that Saudi Arabia provided little to no opportunity for meaningful justice given executive and Royal Court control over the judiciary and prosecutors. She further highlighted Saudi Arabia’s targeting of critics exercising their right to freedom of expression through criminal prosecutions, abductions and enforced disappearances, and egregious fair trial rights violations in the criminal justice system. She went on to state that similar human rights violations in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates make them unlikely credible options for accountability.

She also noted some concerns about aspects of the justice system in Turkey and in that regard said it was too early to determine whether the conduct of investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators in that country would meet international standards.

Other speakers included Nadia abou el Magd, who has 30 years’ experience as a journalist and commentator covering the Middle East, working mainly for the Associated Press, and Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Yahprung from the Faculty of Political Science, Ramkhamheang University, who focuses on Muslim World Issues.

The panel was moderated by Anneliese Mcauliffe who has worked as a journalist across Asia and the Middle East for over two decades.


Kingsley Abbott

Kate Vigneswaran

Senior Legal Adviser

Middle East and North Africa Programme

Phone: +31624894664

Email: kate.vigneswaran(a)icj.org

Twitter: @KateVigneswaran

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