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Saudi Arabia vows justice for Khashoggi killers

November 5, 2018

Saudi Arabia has committed to prosecuting those responsible for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. UN countries have questioned a Saudi delegation about the killing, and other human rights concerns.

Head of the Human Rights Commission of Saudia Arabia Bandar Al Aiban
Image: Reuters/D. Balibouse

Saudi Arabia told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday that it will prosecute those responsible for killing Jamal Khashoggi. The kingdom's Human Rights Commission chief, Bandar Al Aiban, was grilled by other nations over the killing, as well as its human rights record.

"The leadership in the kingdom expressed their pain for the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi," Aiban said during a half-day public debate in Geneva. Saudi prosecutors have started investigations "to reach all truths and present all defendants to justice and sentence those proven guilty of this crime."

Some 40 nations raised the death of Khashoggi, who was harshly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his reform policies, and who was last seen visiting the Saudi consulate three weeks ago to get documents he needed to get married. His remains have not been located.

"We are deeply concerned by the fate of Jamal Khashoggi and we call on Saudi Arabia to provide a detailed and complete response in this regard," the German delegation said in a statement.

Several countries, including Germany, say they want to take action if the kingdom critic was killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a block on weapon exports to Saudi Arabia until the killing is explained. The Saudi government vowed to hit back should any punitive measures be imposed.

Read more: Saudi execution spotlights domestic workers' vulnerable lives

Prominent Critic

In columns published by The Washington Post, 59-year-old Jamal Khashoggi has spoken out against Saudi Arabia's recent diplomatic spat with Canada, the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen conflict, and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women. Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017, fearing arrest for his critical views. 

Yemen's civil war

Monday's so-called Universal Periodic Review, a compulsory review carried out every four years, also focused on Riyadh's role in Yemen's civil war.

Several countries urged Riyadh to guarantee freedom of the press and free speech instead of detaining dissidents under anti-terrorism laws. There were calls to stop the use of capital punishment and to respect the rules of law in Yemen where a Saudi-led alliance is fighting the Iran-linked Houthi rebels.

At least 10,000 have been killed in the conflict, and half the nation faces imminent starvation.

kw, aw/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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