The United Nations special investigator on torture has said if Turkey and Saudi Arabia can’t conduct “a credible and objective investigation” into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi then there may be a need for international involvement.
Nils Melzer told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York that “we should give the involved states time, and under proper scrutiny, to come to a conclusion that they want to address this problem.”
But Melzer said if at a later stage “we can see that one of the involved states does not fulfill its international obligations in regard to being cooperative in investigating this case, then obviously it might be an occasion where I could intervene also publicly and call on the involved states to fulfill their obligations.”
Jens Modvig, chair of the committee that monitors implementation of the U.N. convention against torture, said both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have ratified it. He said the committee considered a report from Saudi Arabia in 2016, and that one concern it raised “is whether human rights defenders and journalists can operate freely or whether they risk scrutiny or reprisals for their legitimate actions.”
Modvig said the committee follows up on recommendations but he couldn’t say whether it would look into the Khashoggi case. Meanwhile, Turkish police searching the Saudi Consulate found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there, a high-level Turkish official said yesterday, and authorities appeared ready to also search the nearby residence of the consul general after the diplomat left the country.
The comment by the Turkish official to The Associated Press intensified pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who vanished Oct. 2 while visiting the consulate to pick up paperwork he need to get married.
The high-level Turkish official told the AP that police found “certain evidence” of Khashoggi’s slaying at the consulate, without elaborating. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia to talk to King Salman and the 33-year-old crown prince about the fate of the journalist who wrote critically about the Saudis for the Washington Post.
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Saudi officials have called Turkish allegations that a team of 15 Saudi agents killed Khashoggi “baseless,” but U.S. media reports suggested that the kingdom may acknowledge the writer was killed at the consulate, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation. The close U.S. ally is ruled entirely by the Al Saud monarchy, and all major decisions in the ultraconservative kingdom are made by the royal family.
Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said the Saudi government “owes the Khashoggi family and the world a full and honest explanation of everything that happened to him,” noting that Tuesday marked two weeks since the disappearance of the 59-year-old journalist.
“The Saudi government can no longer remain silent, and it is essential that our own government and others push harder for the truth,” Ryan added.