UN, US Must Seek Justice for Khashoggi, journalists are depending on them

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CPJ held a press conference in front on the White House (Justin Shilad/CPJ)

The road to justice in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi got a lot clearer with the release of a 101-page report outlining the findings and recommendations of an independent United Nations expert. Her months-long investigation clarifies that this was an international crime that compels the UN and US to take immediate action.

In an op-ed for CNN I argue that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres should immediately launch a criminal investigation, as the Committee to Protect Journalists requested last November, and comply with the recommendations of its independent expert. Similarly, Congress should assert its oversight role in the face of resistance from the administration by demanding that intelligence related to the murder be publicly released and impose sanctions on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The report by UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, labels the hesitancy of Guterres to intervene without an official invitation from Turkey “absurd” and advises that he should be able to establish a criminal probe on his own volition.

The United States, meanwhile, has a responsibility under international human rights law to cooperate fully in the investigation of Khashoggi’s murder and should publicly release as much information as possible that could shed light on the brutal slaying at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.

The primary challenge to securing justice in Washington has been the Trump administration, as President Trump and his advisors have persistently engaged in secrecy and obfuscation, and failed to publicly hold Saudi Arabia accountable. My colleague and I wrote an op-ed for The Hill laying out a series of steps that Congress could take, in line with the recommendations of the UN report.

CPJ held a press conference in front on the White House (Justin Shilad/CPJ)

Inaction will only serve to embolden perpetrators. The Saudi regime continues to detain journalists and restrict freedom of expression with impunity. It will continue to do so as long as the U.S. government allows it to — and other governments will take note. The U.S. must set a standard for global leadership on human rights and accountability for murdered journalists. If the Trump administration won’t take up the challenge, members of Congress must act.

And the UN must not stand idly by, waiting for some country to make the case when the rapporteur has clearly made it, echoing what those of us in the journalism and human rights community have been saying for the past nine months.

Journalists around the world are depending on the US and the UN, which seems scary enough at a time like this, when the leader of the free world calls us enemies of the people, and the UN watches its member states murder journalists with impunity.

Originally published on June 24, 2019 on my duplicate Medium account.

Media. Technology. Policy. Author Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt: Digital Dissidence and Political Change. PhD in International Relations

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