Saudi minister discuses human rights, yet does not mention Khashoggi killing

On Wednesday, the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said, addressing the United Nations, that the kingdom is willing to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, however, he did not specifically refer to a UN-led investigation on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

By Sohaila Barghash

Agnes Callamard, a UN investigator on extra-judicial executions, said after completing her own investigation in Turkey this month, that evidence pointing to a brutal murder “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials was basically apparent.

Agnes has announced earlier this month that the evidence will be part of a report she is preparing on the murder, which is due in June, 2019.

So far, Saudi Arabia has been highly criticized by the international community, most of whom, including US intelligence agencies, believe Crown Prince MBS ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi.

Khashoggi’s killing is believed to have taken place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, on Oct. 2, the murder has since then provoked widespread revulsion and deteriorated Crown Prince’s reputation, leading many companies to withdraw their businesses from the kingdom.

Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated in the Geneva forum: “We will also cooperate with the UN mechanisms related to human rights, including the Human Rights Council.”

The Saudi public prosecutor’s spokesman said late last year that their investigations led to the conclusion that 11 Saudis have been referred for trial over the murder case, with authorities seeking the death penalty for five of them, which the UN has publicly disagreed with in regard of its policy against the death penalty.

Agnes Callamard stated in her preliminary report that Saudi officials had “seriously undermined” and delayed Turkey’s efforts to investigate the crime scene.

Additionally, she called the depressing failure to disclose the location of Khashoggi’s body “unconscionable”.

Callamard also added on Wednesday that so far she did not receive any cooperation from Saudi officials, regardless of her continues requests, noting that “there has been no cooperation of the CIA with my inquiry thus far.”

Al-Jubeir on the contrary said that the kingdom was working to empower women’s position in the country and increase their participation in the labor market, aiming to go from 22 to 30 percent of women participation in the workforce by 2030.

Al-Jubeir added: “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keen in its combating of terrorism as an ideology and behavior. In this regard we strike a balance between combating terrorism on the one hand and the preservation of human rights on the other hand.”

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