Unless an independent investigation is launched right away, rights groups fear Khashoggi's disappearance could remain an unsolved mystery.
UNITED NATIONS – A panel of prominent human rights groups called on Turkey to request a formal U.N. investigation of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Thursday, warning that Saudi Arabia cannot be trusted to probe itself.
Lou Charbonneau is the U.N. director for Human Rights Watch:
“If in fact it’s true that the most senior members of the Saudi government were behind the execution, dismemberment of Mr. Khashoggi, then we don’t want the culprits investigating themselves.”
The U.S. has thus far expressed little concern about the Saudi investigation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recommended to President Trump on Thursday that he wait several more days for Saudi Arabia to release its findings before rushing to judgement.
Charbonneau is suspicious of the motives for doing that.
“When you’re trying to sort of brush this under the carpet, throw it back onto the Saudi government, then in a certain sense, yes, you’re opening yourself up to complicity in a whitewash.”
Sherine Tadros, Amnesty International’s U.N. representative worries that if countries like the U.S. – or other close allies of Saudi Arabia, like the United Kingdom – let the clock run on the Khashoggi case, the more likely it ends up an unsolved mystery.
“I hope that in the coming days when we see – if we see some of the results of the investigation, at least they see it – they don’t just put that in their drawer somewhere and tick a box and hope that this will go away. It’s really up to all of us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The ball is now in Turkey’s court. U.N. chief Antonio Guterres can launch an investigation if Turkey asks it to do so, or if the U.N. Security Council hands him a mandate.
Charbonneau says the former would be far preferable.
“We don’t want this to be yet another thing that winds [up] on the lap of the Security Council and ends up the focus of interminable political wrangling. This is why we’re saying Turkey can take this straight to the secretary-general and it can happen fast – [snap] like that.”