Justice for Jamal

On October 2, 2019, CPJ marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi with a candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., outside the Saudi Arabian embassy. On September 26, CPJ filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to release documents regarding Khashoggi’s murder and the “duty to warn” obligations.

The CIA concluded with high confidence—and the U.S. Senate unanimously believes—that Khashoggi’s murder was committed by Saudi officials inside their consulate in Istanbul at the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. So far, President Donald Trump’s administration has refused to pursue justice. The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation requiring the administration to submit to Congress a public report presenting all relevant evidence and a full list of those believed to be involved. The Senate must act on the findings. At the United Nations, a comprehensive report by Agnes Callamard, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, concluded that the murder violated six international laws and that “[Khashoggi’s] killing was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive coordination and significant human and financial resources.” At the U.N. Human Rights Council in June, CPJ, in coordination with several other leading advocacy groups, highlighted recommendations from the report and discussed how to enhance the U.N. response to states that target journalists. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the regime continues its decades-long repression of the media.


Khashoggi’s murder has broad repercussions for journalists not only in Saudi Arabia but around the world. CPJ will continue to research and report on attacks on journalists in Saudi Arabia, advocate for the release of journalists imprisoned there, and highlight the deadly impact on journalists of U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, including the at least seven journalists killed in the airstrikes. The pursuit of justice is far from over and we will hold the Saudi government accountable for its press freedom violations.


There is no one path to getting justice for Jamal. Therefore CPJ is urging the United Nations Secretary General to conduct an independent criminal investigation, asking Congress to hold the mastermind accountable through the Global Magnitsky Act; and letting the private sector and tech industry know that there can be no business as usual with Saudi Arabia until there is justice for Jamal. 


CPJ’s campaign to honor Jamal prompted people around the world to share why they need journalism on postcards and social media using the hashtag #JusticeForJamal. On February 20, 2019, we took these signs to the steps of the White House during a press conference at which we called on the Trump administration to meet a deadline to deliver a report to Congress detailing its findings on Jamal’s murder. The Trump administration failed to do so.