Saudi must make Khashoggi trials public: UN expert

Geneva: A UN human rights expert said Thursday that Saudi Arabia needed to hold public trials for those accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi in order for the process to be credible.

“Contrary to Saudi Arabia assertions, these are not internal, domestic matters,” said Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The kingdom “is grievously mistaken if it believes that these proceedings, as currently constituted, will satisfy the international community,” she added in a statement.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of his fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents.

The public prosecutor in the Saudi capital has charged 11 people over his murder and the government has rejected calls for an independent international investigation.

Callamard is conducting what she has described as “an independent human rights inquiry” into Khashoggi’s death.

She has previously stated that the killing was “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials, but her probe was not established by a United Nations resolution and it does not carry the weight of a formal inquiry.

UN special rapporteurs are also independent and do not speak for the world body.

Callamard on Thursday issued a set of recommendations to make the Saudi-led process more credible.

They include making public the names of the accused and charges against them as well as publicising all trial proceedings and the evidence presented.

Callamard also called on international monitors to be allowed at the trial and full transparency regarding any efforts to locate Khashoggi’s remains.

“The rights of the victim and his family are at stake, but so too are the rights of other states under international treaties and law,” she added.

Saudi officials have previously said they were insulted by calls for international supervision of the Khashoggi case, dismissing them as unfair attacks on the integrity of its judicial system.