Khashoggi murder: Saudi death sentences a travesty of justice

23 Dec, 2019 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome, 23 December 2019

The verdict in the Saudi Arabia case for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in October 2018 is a travesty of justice and requires immediate action by the international community to ensure that justice can actually be done. Several aspects of the case raise serious concerns about its fairness and cast serious doubt on the decision.

No Peace Without Justice firmly rejects the death penalty in all situations, it being cruel and unusual punishment that also allows no recourse to the accused in the event of miscarriages of justice eventually being uncovered. It is especially concerning in politically-motivated cases like this one, where there are legitimate concerns that if the five people sentenced to death are actually executed, the real masterminds behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi may never be fully unmasked and the truth of his death may never be brought to light. 

NPWJ is especially concerned that the trial, which was held in secrecy, did not adhere to minimum international human rights standards, raising serious doubts about the findings and verdicts. The lack of separation of powers in Saudi Arabia and the fact that no record of the trial has been released makes it impossible for independent observers to examine the process to determine its fairness. The fact that international observers were present is no comfort in this case: they have been sworn to secrecy, which – if they continue to stay silent – means their presence means nothing in determining whether the trials were fair and adhered to due process. 

Above all, NPWJ is seriously concerned that those who bear the greatest responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s death were neither defendants in this case, nor there is any chance that they can be held accountable in Saudi courts of law. The five people sentenced to death have been described as foot soldiers in the killing, while the persons ultimately responsible retain the reins of power; even those higher up the chain within the kill team who were prosecuted either received more lenient sentences or were acquitted of all charges. NPWJ firmly calls for responsibility to be placed where it belongs, namely in the hands of those responsible for the decision-making that ultimately resulted in the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.

For further information, contact Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, on org.