UN 'paralyzed' over Khashoggi killing, rapporteur says

Published 04.07.2019 00:34

The U.N. has been "paralyzed" in how to deal with the Khashoggi killing, with many world leaders being hesitant in their responses, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard said on Tuesday. Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives in the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Initially denying and later downplaying the incident as an accidental killing in a fistfight, almost three weeks after the disappearance Riyadh finally admitted that Khashoggi was murdered in a premeditated action but denied any involvement by the royal family. The incident was blamed on lower-level officials.

Still, Khashoggi's body has not been recovered and the kingdom has remained silent on its whereabouts. Callamard, in a report last month, said that the state of Saudi Arabia was responsible for the killing of Khashoggi. The report also found "credible evidence" that linked Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of Khashoggi.

On a visit to Washington, Callamard said that the next G20 summit, scheduled for November 2020 in Riyadh, offered a chance to pressure Saudi Arabia. "Political accountability for Mr. Khashoggi will mean that it doesn't happen or it's moved elsewhere, or something is being done to ensure that the political system in the U.S. and in other countries does not become complicit in that international crime," Callamard said at the Brookings Institution. Callamard said it was crucial to recognize that a state carried out the killing of Khashoggi.

"So far the Western governments that have adopted individualized targeted sanctions, which, by the way, are good, are also selling the 'rogue' theory by so doing," she said, referring to the Saudi contention that out-of-control agents were responsible. She also called for sanctions to restrict Saudi access to surveillance technology, saying the government has shown it "cannot be trusted" with it. An Israeli spyware company, Pegasus, reportedly sold surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia that was used to track the murdered journalist, according to National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has slapped sanctions on individuals but vowed to preserve warm ties with Saudi Arabia due in part to its purchases of U.S. weapons and its hostility to Iran. Meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the last G20 meeting on Saturday in Osaka, Trump said the 33-year-old leader was doing a "spectacular job."

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