October 27, 2018: In a joint statement published on 26 October, Justice for Iran and over 160 civil society organisations called on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s authorities to produce the body of journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi and hold parties responsible for his murder accountable. Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, on 2 October. The Saudi government has since attempted to cover-up the crime, and now 162 organisations are calling on Saudi authorities to cooperate with the United Nations in inviting an independent investigation into the murder. They also called on the Kingdom to take actions ensuring human rights protections for Saudi Arabians and Yemenis.
The international community, and the UN in particular, is also called upon in the joint statement. The organisations are seeking accountability not only for Khashoggi’s murder, but for a wider range of Saudi Arabia’s gross and systematic violations of human rights. These violations are detailed in the statement, which also asks the UN General Assembly to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council.
Since 2017, human rights groups have measured an increase in arbitrary arrests made against the Saudi government’s critics. Those targeted include women’s rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, human rights and civil society activists, and critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” economic reform plan. The escalating suppression against dissenters also has the organisations calling on the authorities there to institute a moratorium on the death penalty and quash the critics’ convictions, releasing them from detention immediately and unconditionally.
The call for action comes as the world approaches the 2 November International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.