In response to the release of findings from of an international investigation into the killing of Saudi dissident, American resident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Human Rights First again calls on Congress to pursue accountability for his murder. This morning, Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, released her final report into Khashoggi’s killing. Among the findings, she found that Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents acting at the behest of Saudi officials, that state authorities obstructed her investigation and that of Turkey’s into the case, and that the Saudi investigation and trial related to the murder lack credibility and legitimacy.
“Callamard’s report underscores that there will be no justice for Jamal Khashoggi unless Congress steps up. Saudi leaders have made it clear that they intend to get away with murder. President Trump has made it clear that he values arms sales over the killing and dismemberment of a U.S. resident. Congress must make it clear that it will not let this stand,” said Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski. “The Senate has passed a unanimous resolution that found, based on U.S. intelligence, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. Republican and Democratic House leaders have called for accountability. Now is the time for action, not words.”
On February 8, the Trump Administration rejected a deadline to report to leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee on who the U.S. government believes is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. President Trump declined to make the determination even though media reports indicated that the CIA assesses with “high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was likely ultimately responsible.
Since Khashoggi’s October 2, 2018 murder at the hands of a Saudi Arabian hit team, Human Rights First has documented facts regarding the killing, the Trump Administration’s attempts to cover for Saudi leaders, and Congress’ bipartisan demands for accountability. In March, a group of 11 human rights organizations led by Human Rights First sent a letter to leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee calling on Congress to take action in defense of human rights defenders afraid to speak without fear of assassination.
“A failure to act will signal a green light to autocrats around the world that they can murder dissidents without repercussion, even if those dissidents seek shelter in the United States,” added Berschinski. “That’s an incredibly dangerous precedent. Republicans and Democrats alike have introduced legislation that would turn a green light red. They need to come together and pass a law that penalizes the offenders. The future safety of Americans, and that of brave activists around the world, depends on it.”
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