United Nations, October 31: The United Nations human rights chief pressed on Tuesday for an impartial investigation into the "shockingly brazen" murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and asked the Saudi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of his body without further delay or prevarication.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The Saudis, under intense pressure to explain Khashoggi's whereabouts, have offered conflicting accounts. They initially said he had left the consulate on October 2, but later admitted that he had been killed in a fight. This claim met widespread scepticism.
Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government, was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the building and say they have evidence to prove it. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stressed that a full examination of, and accountability for, human rights violations committed against Khashoggi be conducted. Donald Trump Calls Jamal Khashoggi Murder 'Worst Cover-Up in History' as US Revokes Visas of Some Saudi Officials.
Bachelet welcomed the steps taken by Turkish and Saudi authorities to investigate and prosecute the alleged perpetrators, but added that "given the information that high-level officials in Saudi Arabia were apparently involved, and it took place in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia, the bar must be set very high to ensure meaningful accountability and justice for such a shockingly brazen crime against a journalist and government critic.
"For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable," she said.
Bachelet said it is important to determine whether serious human rights violations – such as torture, summary execution or enforced disappearance – were committed and to identify those implicated, "irrespective of their official capacity". She called on Turkish and Saudi authorities to cooperate in ensuring that the truth be revealed.
Noting that forensic examination, including an autopsy on the victim's body is crucial in any murder investigation, Bachelet urged the Saudi authorities to reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body “without further delay or prevarication."
Since the murder was discovered, a chorus of UN officials have demanded a probe into Khashoggi's case, including Secretary-General António Guterres, who stressed the need for a “prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Khashoggi's death and full accountability for those responsible."
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye said he was "very disappointed" that Member States have so far failed to back calls for an independent international investigation into the murder.