Rights and media groups want information on Khashoggi trial

Rights and media groups want information on Khashoggi trial
2 min read
06 April, 2019
Amnesty International, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders call for transparency in Khashoggi murder trial.
Global outrage was sparked by Khashoggi's grisly killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul [Getty]
Seven human rights and press freedom groups urged the US, Britain and France to speak out publicly about the trial in Saudi Arabia of 11 people charged in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which their diplomats are attending.

Amnesty International, Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders penned letters to the foreign ministers of the three countries.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained on Friday, said that providing information and much-needed transparency "would enable some scrutiny of the fairness of the trial".

"In addition to reinforcing the fair trial rights of the accused persons," the groups said making information public would "guard against potential scapegoating of some individuals".

They also said that "transparency around the trial can work to guarantee that the court proceedings do not cover up the alleged involvement of the Saudi leadership".

A global outcry was sparked by Khashoggi's grisly killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October by Saudi agents, in an operation directed by former top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Last week, the independent UN human rights expert on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, who is leading a human rights investigation into Khashoggi's killing, denounced the shrouded trial and called on the kingdom to identify the defendants.

She also warned that the five permanent UN Security Council nations invited to attend some court hearings - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - "risk being participants in a potential miscarriage of justice" and could be "complicit" if the trials turn out to involve violations of human rights law.

The seven groups urged the US, Britain and France to press the Saudis to allow observers from the UN human rights office and international human rights and media organisations to attend the trial.

They did not write to or make similar requests of the Russians and Chinese.

"Concerned governments should take the necessary steps to ensure that they do not provide cover for what could be a sham trial," the rights and media groups said.

"Doing so would also run the risk of enabling authorities in Riyadh to find a set of individuals guilty, without due process, while whitewashing the possible involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi government."

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