Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman should be investigated for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi concluded the UN in a damning report on the killing of the Washington Post journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
In a 100-page report published today, the UN said that
it is the conclusion of the special rapporteur that Mr Khashoggi has been the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law.
The report found that Khashoggi's killing "constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible."
The UN dismissed Riyadh's defence of the Crown Prince who it claims did not sanction the killing of Khashoggi. "From the perspective of international human rights law, State responsibility is not a question of, for example, which of the State officials ordered Mr. Khashoggi's death; whether one or more ordered a kidnapping that was botched and then became an accidental killing; or whether the officers acted on their own initiative," said the report.
UN's extrajudicial executions investigator, Agnes Callamard, said that the death was an "international crime" and called for "further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's".
Callamard warned against a disproportionate emphasis on identifying who ordered the crime, pointing out that the search for justice and accountability is not singularly dependent on finding a smoking gun.
The Special Rapporteur found that both the investigations conducted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths. The report also found credible evidence pointing to the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned. Callamard said that "these indicate that the Saudi investigation was not conducted in good faith, and that it may amount to obstructing justice".
On her assessment of Riyadh's reaction to the killing, the Special Rapporteur said that the kingdom has "taken timid steps towards addressing its State responsibilities in terms of prosecution and reparation". It concluded that the Saudi response stopped "short of what is required under international law" adding that "the accountability gap is all the more worrying given that it concerns a crime that has received an unprecedented level of attention and outcry internationally, including official public condemnation the world over".
Worryingly for MBS and senior Saudi officials, the report believes that "killing of Mr Khashoggi constitutes an international crime over which States should claim universal jurisdiction". Such a conclusion is likely to expose the crown prince and anyone associated with him to warrants and legal arrests whenever he leaves the kingdom.