(New York) – Britain, France, and the United States should issue detailed, public reports on the Saudi trial for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a coalition of seven human rights and press freedom groups said today in an open letter. The three countries are among those that the Saudi government invited to attend the trial proceedings, which have been closed to the United Nations, the media, and the public.
The trial in Riyadh of 11 suspects charged in the murder of Khashoggi, the Saudi columnist for the Washington Post killed in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, began on January 3, 2019. Given the serious and well-documented inadequacies of the Saudi criminal justice system, Britain, France and the United States should act to ensure that they do not provide cover for what could be a sham trial, the organizations said.
Secret trial proceedings “would also run the risk of enabling the authorities in Riyadh to find a set of individuals guilty, without due process, while whitewashing the possible involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi government,” the groups said in letters to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The groups also urged the three governments to press the Saudi leadership to allow independent observers from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international human rights groups, and international media organizations to attend the proceedings.
The groups that signed the letters are Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, and Reporters Without Borders.