A Look at Some of the International Reactions...
Khashoggi’s horrific fate indicates the dire conditions of human rights defenders, who expose truths with their reports. Even having safe havens outside the country, these advocates are criticised and their lives are in danger.
The Khashoggi case shows various aspects of human rights violations by Saudi Arabia including the right to information and the right to freedom of expression and belief that can raise the possibility of the Kingdom being accused of the violation of the right to the sovereignty of the receiving State according to Article 55 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 , as well as committing the crime of forced disappearances (as stated in The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance). Therefore it is natural that this belated confession, faces global reactions.
Among all the reactions, the majority of international organizations and countries that condemned Saudi Arabia’s action, on the very first day, called for a thorough investigation. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany were some of the first countries to condemn the action and call for further investigation. International NGOs also took a similar stance. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Amnesty International, UNESCO where among those who swiftly reacted towards the journalist’s murder.
In a statement released on 19 October Guterres said that he was “deeply troubled” by the reported confirmation of the death of Jamal Khashoggi and called for full accountability of Saudi officials. Due to lack of trust in Saudi Arabia, on 19 October Amnesty International called upon the country’s authorities to immediately produce the body of the deceased journalist so that the independent forensic experts can perform further investigation. In a statement on 21 October UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said : “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi reminds us of the need to fight for press freedom, which is essential to democracy. Accountability for these crimes is non-negotiable."
Nevertheless there were countries that came to the defense of Saudi Arabia. Speaking on 19 October, the President of the United States said the initial Saudi actions and explanations were convincing and expressed his preference in preserving the multi-billion dollar arms deal with the Kingdom. Other countries such as Bahrain and Egypt also were deemed Saudi Arabia’s decision as a decision in accordance with legal principles.
In any event, this is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has violated human rights and gets serious condemnation of countries and international institutions. Documents and evidence show a pattern of serial violations, both internally and internationally in issues such as interference in the crisis in Yemen and Bahrain, continuation of systematic discriminations against minorities, crackdown on women’s rights activists and violation of criminal justice in the country. Experience has shown that despite all the condemnations, Saudi Arabia cannot tolerate or accept criticism and discontent. Under these circumstances it is expected of the international community to show a resolute reaction to this incident and adopt necessary practical measures, otherwise the world will witness further and more extensive instances of human rights violations.
Sara Balkh, human rights researcher