What the UN wants next in the investigation of Jamal Khashoggi's murder

Neill Borowski
"Khashoggi’s killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible," UN special report says.

The independent United Nations report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi clearly lays the blame on Saudi Arabia but also calls for more investigations into exactly who in the nation was involved – including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The journalist, who lived in the U.S., was killed Oct. 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by Saudi agents.

"Khashoggi’s killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible. His attempted kidnapping would also constitute a violation under international human rights law," notes the report, which totals about 100 pages. The independent investigation "has determined that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s."

The report, released Wednesday, recommends what should come next, and makes suggestions for steps to be taken by the U.N., the United States and others:

United Nations should fully investigate

The report calls for the U.N. to "initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi to build-up strong files on each of the alleged perpetrators and identify mechanisms for formal accountability, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal. The Secretary General himself should be able to establish an international follow-up criminal investigation without any trigger by a State."

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Jan. 29, 2011, in Davos, Switzerland.

It also recommends that the U.N. Human Rights Council or the U.N. General Assembly "establish a standing Instrument for the criminal investigation into allegations of targeted killing, or other acts of violence against journalists, human rights defenders or others targeted because of their peaceful activities or expressions."

Saudi Arabia needs a more complete response

The U.N. report notes its "special rapporteur," the person who directed the report, was not provided  "any information regarding the evidence they may have collected." It also stated: "The Saudi Public Prosecution made public a few of their findings on 15 November but the statement was light on details, limiting itself to a few general allegations."

The special rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, added that "some of the individuals allegedly referenced in these statements and the identity of 11 perpetrators currently on trial do not match. Further, the Saudi authorities have yet to disclose the whereabouts of the remains of Mr. Khashoggi."

Calling for the Saudis to "suspend current trial," the report advises the nation to "support UN-led additional criminal investigation and implement decisions regarding the location and structure of a future trial."

If that's not done, then the Saudis should take on additional investigations and a retrial – all with U.N. and international input and oversight, the report states.

Apologies

Apologies from the Saudis are requested in the U.N. report. These include apologies to Khashoggi's family, friends and colleagues for his execution (as well as reparations). Apologies also are requested to the Turkish government and the United States "for executing its resident and, through this act, attacked a fundamental freedom."

The Saudi nation also should "demonstrate non-repetition" by "releasing all individuals imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their opinion and belief."

The Saudis also should independently investigate allegations of torture, lethal force and "enforced disappearances."

Deeper involvement by the U.S.

The special report calls for the FBI to open an investigation into Khashoggi's execution if there is not one already and "pursue criminal prosecutions in the United States." The report also suggests that the U.S. declassify and release to the public information on Khashoggi's murder.

Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016, the U.S. should provide a determination if the Crown Prince was responsible "as well as the relevant information documenting how the administration came to this determination."

The special report also makes recommendations for Turkey, corporations, member states and others. Many of those recommendations call for support of the human rights components of a Khashoggi investigation and future incidents.

Member states of the U.N. should "adopt legislation designing and sanctioning individuals, including high-level State officials, against whom there is credible evidence they are responsible for, or have benefitted from, human rights violations, including the killing of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What the UN wants next in the investigation of Jamal Khashoggi's murder