CPJ calls on UN to investigate murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi consulate

Mr. António Guterres
Secretary General
United Nations Secretariat Building
405 E 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Secretary General Guterres,

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit, non-governmental press freedom organization, writes to request that the United Nations launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2. The Turkish government has already declared it is ready to cooperate with such an investigation, and it is imperative that an independent, credible probe be mounted to ensure that those who ordered the murder are brought to justice.

Saudi authorities have provided various misleading explanations of the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death. First they claimed that he left the consulate, and then that he died following a fight that went wrong; then they admitted Khashoggi was murdered, and then that this murder was premeditated. The measures announced by Saudi Arabia to dismiss several officials and to continue the investigation by the Kingdom’s attorney general are insufficient. All of these factors underscore the urgent need for an independent, impartial investigation.

Since Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman took power in June 2017, CPJ has documented a significant crackdown on the press. According to CPJ research, at least 14 journalists are jailed for their work, including Raif Badawi, a critically important independent blogger who has been subjected to physical torture by flogging while serving a 10-year prison sentence.

We believe that Khashoggi’s case requires firm and sustained action on your part to ensure that the entire truth about the circumstances of his death is discovered, including the identity of those responsible for both carrying it out and for ordering it, and that the perpetrators are tried and punished in accordance with international standards. The absence of resolute action by the international community, proportionate to the extreme gravity of the Khashoggi case, would send the wrong message that governments may kill journalists with impunity.

This is why we urgently ask you to work with Turkey to appoint an international investigative commission tasked with establishing the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder, gathering evidence, and determining who was responsible.

CPJ would be happy to provide any additional information on the implications of Khashoggi’s murder for journalists as well as details on additional cases of journalists imprisoned and arbitrarily detained in Saudi Arabia.

Joel Simon
Executive Director
Committee to Protect Journalists