G20 used by Saudis 'to build legitimacy'

Saudi Arabia using G20 meeting in Riyadh to build legitimacy, says UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions

Peter Kenny   | 11.03.2020
G20 used by Saudis 'to build legitimacy'


The UN's special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, speaking on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, said Tuesday that by holding the G20 meeting in Riyadh this year, the international community is being used by the Saudi government to build legitimacy.

UN expert Agnes Callamard demanded "targeted sanctions" against individuals in the Saudi administration as a good option for the delivery of accountability for the brutal killing of journalist Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018.

Callamard attended a panel titled Human Rights Crises in Saudi Arabia held at the Geneva Press Club in Switzerland, via video-conferencing.

"I am demanding our governments have targeted sanctions" against Saudi Arabia, she said.

"The G20 to be held at the end of the year in Riyadh is an opportunity to gather energy, to recreate the energy around the lack of accountability in the killing of Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia's Consulate General.

"By holding the G20 in Riyadh, the international community is agreeing to being instrumentalized by the government to build legitimacy and for protecting the reputation of Saudi Arabia," she said.

Callamard said she was "very disappointed" because so far no country had taken a stand against going to Riyadh for the 15th meeting of the G20, which Saudi Arabia is scheduled to host on Nov. 21-22.

Callamard urged the international community to continue demanding a full investigation into the killing of Khashoggi.

"By keeping the issue on the agenda…we demonstrate, not only to Saudi Arabia but to governments around the world that we are not turning our eyes away and that there is a price attached to the killing of a journalist and ultimately nobody will get away with."

At the same conference, however, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee, criticized the failure of the United Nations in starting an international investigation.

"The UN and the international community's failure to act on this murder has hurt many people's consciences," said Cengiz.

Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. After initially denying responsibility, Saudi officials blamed his death on a botched rendition attempt. International authorities have said the truth about the murder has yet to be revealed.

Callamard concluded in an earlier report that Khashoggi's murder was a "deliberate, premeditated execution" and she encouraged an investigation into the possible role of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Saudi officials, however, have insisted that the crown prince was not involved in the murder.

At the end of last year, Saudi Arabia announced the death penalty for five people for taking part in Khashoggi's murder.

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