Information on Khashoggi case from Turkish President Erdogan highlights need for international investigation

In light of new information released by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the apparent murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Turkish government should seek cooperation from independent and impartial international investigators into the apparent extrajudicial killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, the ICJ urged today.

Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan today told the Turkish Parliament that investigations suggested that Saudi officials had planned to kill Khashoggi and he called for all those responsible for the killing to be punished regardless of rank.

“Given the highly political nature of this case and its emblematic impact for journalists and dissidents around the world, Turkey should work with the United Nations to establish a special independent mechanism to carry out the investigation with a view to identifying the perpetrators and prescribing recommendations for appropriate accountability measures,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ’s MENA Programme Director.

“Alternatively, the investigation should be conducted by competent Turkish authorities, given that Turkey already has jurisdiction and an obligation to carry out an investigation,” he added.

Investigations by Turkey to date suggest that the crime was planned, at least in part, in Saudi Arabia, and that perpetrators, evidence and witnesses are located in at least two countries.

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, stated today that Turkey is ready to cooperate with an international investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

“Given the gravity of the crime and the fact that evidence and perpetrators are located outside Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other States should cooperate with an international investigation and waive any diplomatic protections and immunities that may apply to State officials and premises. They should also hand over all forensic, video, audio and other evidence, facilitate investigators’ access to State territory and witnesses, including State officials, and provide the necessary support to locate, retrieve and identify other evidence such as human remains and trace evidence and to carry out an autopsy on Khashoggi’s remains,” Benarbia said.

The ICJ dismissed statements by Saudi Arabia that it would carry out an independent, impartial investigation of the apparent murder.

On 20 October 2018, after initially denying any involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s enforced disappearance, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement claiming Khashoggi died when a “fight broke out” in discussions with Saudi officials at the consulate.

“Saudi Arabia has provided no evidence to support its incredible claim two weeks on that Jamal Khashoggi died after a fight broke out. Their investigation into his death lacks transparency and independence. Given Saudi Arabia’s past record in countenancing complete impunity for officials involved in serious human rights violations, it is reasonable to expect that this investigation and will result in a cover-up in which those most responsible avoid accountability,” Benarbia added.

Saudi Arabia’s repeated denials that it had any knowledge of the fate of Khashoggi, followed by its claims that “rogue” State operatives were responsible for his death, indicate that any Turkish investigation will be unlikely to elicit any meaningful cooperation from Saudi authorities.

“The denials, obfuscation and scapegoating by Saudi Arabia reveals a contempt for human rights that’s indicative of its modus operandi,” Benarbia said.

“Saudi authorities have repeatedly failed to carry out independent and impartial investigations into allegations that State officials have engaged in widespread arbitrary arrested and detention, torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearances, including of journalists, human rights defenders and critics of the government. Since Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was appointed in June 2017, repression of the exercise of human rights for political reasons has increased. Those convicted for exercising their lawful rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association face lengthy prison terms or the death penalty, after trials marred by fair trial rights violations,” he added.

Saudi Arabia-Khashoggi intl investigation-News-press releases-2018-ENG (full story with additional background, in PDF)

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