Inquiry into the killing of Mr. Jamal Kashoggi


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Media Advisory


Questions & Answers:

Who requested the inquiry?

The inquiry, was undertaken at the initiative, of Dr. Agnes Callamard (former mandate holder 2016-2021) under the terms of her mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings.

As there had been, to date, no signal that the UN and Member States intended to demand officially or implement an international criminal investigation, leading to criminal proceedings as appropriate, Dr. Callamard felt duty bound under the terms of the mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, to initiate a human rights inquiry into the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. She conceived of this inquiry to be a necessary step, among a number of others, towards crucial truth telling about and formal accountability for the gruesome killing of Mr. Khashoggi.

Through the inquiry, Dr. Callamard assessed the steps taken by governments to address and respond to the killing, as well as the nature and extent of States' and individuals' responsibilities for the killing. The inquiry made recommendations about how to ensure formal accountability for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and identified broader ways by which States can strengthen fulfilment of their international commitments to protect the right to life, prevent violations and ensure accountability.

Who requested the mission to Turkey?

Dr. Callamard requested the mission to Turkey. As per the rules and practices of the Special Procedures, she requested that the Turkish Government agree to extend an invitation to undertake an official visit to Turkey to focus on the enforced disappearance and killing of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi that took place on 2 October 2018, in the consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. The Turkish Government granted this authorization and extended their invitation.

An initial visit to Istanbul and Ankara (Turkey) was undertaken late January 2019 followed by visits to Washington, Ottawa, Paris, London and Berlin. An additional visit to Istanbul was made and meetings held in New York City, Geneva and Brussels.

The Special Rapporteur requested a country visit to Saudi Arabia, but no response to the request was received. Saudi authorities promised an official response to the joint communications sent by Special Procedures on 8 October 2018 and 25 February 2019 with specific questions in relation to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. No official response to these questions has been received as of July 2021.

How is the Special Rapporteur's mandate relevant to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi?

All evidence available suggested that the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and the subsequent disappearance of his body, were serious human rights violations that fell within the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings. The mission to Turkey sought to establish the circumstances of that killing. It was based on international human rights standards with a particular focus on the extent and nature of States' responsibilities both for Mr. Khashoggi's death and for the steps taken in response to his killing.

Was this an OHCHR inquiry?

This was not an OHCHR inquiry.

As Special Rapporteur, Dr. Callamard served in her personal capacity and remained independent from any government and the UN, including the OHCHR. She was responsible before and report to the Human Rights Council, not the High Commissioner's office.

Is the Special Rapporteur acting on the authority of the UNSG or UNSC?

Special Rapporteurs are fully independent from the UNSG or UNSC. They are responsible before and report to the Human Rights Council.

In the process of implementing their mandate, Special Rapporteurs do engage with the UNSG, UNSC or other UN bodies. These UN bodies may be the subjects of Special Rapporteurs reports, communications and recommendations.

Dr. Callamard was not acting under the authority of the UNSG or the UNSC. She was acting under and in pursuance of a mandate given to her by the UN Human Rights Council in resolution 35/15. Dr. Callamard implemented her mandate and performed her duties and exercised her functions in an impartial and independent manner. Her final report to the Human Rights Council included recommendations addressed to UN bodies, such as the UNSC, UN HRC or UNSG.

Why an international inquiry?

Dr. Callamard believed that an impartial and independent assessment was required in order to establish the truth and ensure justice for Jamal Khashoggi. She hoped tol help ensure accountability and transparency in this case and open new avenues for the prevention and protection of the right to life in other cases, including of journalists and human rights defenders, and accountability for their killings.

The implications of this complex and significant case are so grave that they warranted examination by an independent, international team, so that the full truth be established. It was Dr. Callamard's hope that her mission contribute to that endeavor.

Who else was involved in the mission to Turkey? Were other UN bodies involved?

No other UN bodies were involved. Dr. Callamard headed the mission to Turkey that included prominent legal experts and was supported by other experts in relevant technical and forensic matters. She consulted with a broad range of experts and stakeholders as she sought to validate the information and evidence gathered. The former Special Rapporteur applied international human rights standards to interpret the implications of the case, in terms of States responsibilities and, where possible, potential individual criminal liability. In particular, the assessment focused on the responsibilities that States carry specifically with regards to protecting the right to life of anyone, including journalists, human rights defenders, activists or others.

Did the Special Rapporteur expect to go to Saudi Arabia?

Dr. Callamard informed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the country visit to Turkey and its purpose. She requested access to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and a meeting with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saud Arabia in Turkey.

She also sought permission to conduct a similar country-visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but such a visit did not take place.

Similarly, she also requested and had meetings with other relevant stakeholders.