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UN did not provide enough resources, says expert who investigated Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions Agnès S. Callamard said she relied on NGOs and pro-bono support while investigating the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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New Delhi: Agnès S. Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, said Wednesday that the global body did not provide her with enough resources for her investigation into the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Special rapporteurs are not UN staff, but are hired by the Human Rights Council to monitor and advise on specific country situations or thematic issues. 

Callamard began her probe into Khashoggi’s death in December 2018 and, after a six-month-long investigation, published a report on 19 June 2019, which called for further investigation of high-level Saudi officials including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking at a virtual panel discussion, Callamard said that she had to rely on NGOs and “pro-bono support” for her investigation because of the insufficient funds provided by the UN.

The panel, which was co-sponsored by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, had convened to discuss the documentary on Khashoggi’s murder ‘The Dissident’, directed by Bryan Fogel, which was released last December.

Aside from Callamard, the panel comprised Jameel Jaffer, a human rights and civil liberties lawyer, Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Ron Deibert, director of the CitizenLab at the University of Toronto who spoke on the use of spyware in the case.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed by Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, sparking an international outcry.


Also read: Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee sues Saudi Crown Prince in US for the 2018 killing


‘UN hiding behind procedures’

During the panel discussion, Callamard said the UN has been “hiding behind procedures” on the investigation.

In her 2019 report, she had stated that “the killing of Mr Khashoggi constitutes an international crime over which [Member] States should claim universal jurisdiction.” But no investigation was taken up against the officials by the UN.

Callamard also noted the closed-door trial conducted in a Saudi court over Khashoggi’s murder last year was “lacking transparency” and “masterminds” like Saudi court advisor Saoud Al Qahtani, are yet to be held accountable.

Her comments come on the backdrop of the Joe Biden administration’s decision to release a declassified version of a US intelligence report, with the CIA as the main contributor.

The report allegedly concluded that the Crown Prince had approved Khashoggi’s murder.

The former Trump administration had refused to release the contents of the report, despite demands by US lawmakers.


Also read: US judge orders partial disclosure of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder files


 

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