Posts Tagged ‘Extrajudicial killing’

NEWS: UN expert, Agnes Callamard, says Saudi Arabia is responsible for ‘extrajudicial’ killing of Khashoggi and calls it ‘international crime’.

June 19, 2019

The UN rapporteur believes that the killing of Khashoggi constitutes an international crime [File: Sedad Suna/EPA-EFE]
The UN rapporteur believes that the killing of Khashoggi constitutes an international crime [File: Sedad Suna/EPA-EFE]

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 says UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard in her report which was released on Wednesday 19 June 2019. She said Khashoggi’s death “constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible”. Al Jazeera published the Executive Summary (see below), while Rob Berschinski of Human Rights First calls on Congress to pursue accountability for his murder. “Callamard’s report underscores that there will be no justice for Jamal Khashoggi unless Congress steps up. Saudi leaders have made it clear that they intend to get away with murder. President Trump has made it clear that he values arms sales over the killing and dismemberment of a U.S. resident. Congress must make it clear that it will not let this stand,”. He added that “the Senate has passed aunanimous resolution that found, based on U.S. intelligence, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. Republican and Democratic House leaders have called for accountability. Now is the time for action, not words.”

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/18/jamal-khashoggi-murder-the-plot-thickens/

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Executive summary

State Responsibilities

1.   Mr. Khashoggi’s killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible. His attempted kidnapping would also constitute a violation under international human rights law. 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 or ultra vires.

2.   The killing of Mr. Khashoggi further constituted a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (thereafter VCCR) and of the prohibition against the extra-territorial use of force in time of peace (customary law and UN Charter). In killing a journalist, the State of Saudi Arabia also committed an act inconsistent with a core tenet of the United Nations, the protection of freedom of expression.  As such, it can be credibly argued that it used force extra-territorially in a manner “inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

3.   Further, the circumstances of the killing of Mr. Khashoggi may constitute an act of torture under the terms of the Convention Against Torture, ratified by Saudi Arabia. Finally, the killing of Mr. Khashoggi may also constitute to this date an enforced disappearance since the location of his remains has not been established.

Individual liability

4.   The Special Rapporteur has determined that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s.  She warns 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 and the person holding it. The search is also, if not primarily, about identifying those who, in the context of the commission of a violation, have abused, or failed to fulfill, the responsibilities of their positions of authority. 

Duty to investigate and consular immunity

5.   The Special Rapporteur has found that both the investigations conducted by Saudi Arabia and Turkey failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths.

6.   Saudi officials were present in the Saudi consulate and residence in Istanbul from 6 to 15 October during which time they presumably investigated the killing. However, the Special Rapporteur was not provided with any information regarding the evidence they may have collected during this period. The Saudi Public Prosecution made public a few of their findings on 15 November but the statement was light on details, limiting itself to a few general allegations. Other statements regarding the actions and responsibilities of specific individuals were a welcomed step. However, the Special Rapporteur notes that some of the individuals allegedly referenced in these statements and the identity of 11 perpetrators currently on trial do not match. Further, the Saudi authorities have yet to disclose the whereabouts of the remains of Mr. Khashoggi.

7.   The Special Rapporteur found that under the terms of the VCCR, Saudi authorities were under no legal obligation to grant access to the Consular premises to the Turkish investigators. However, Saudi Arabia was under an international obligation to cooperate with the Turkish authorities in the investigation of the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. Such cooperation necessarily demanded that they gave access to the consulate to the Turkish authorities in a prompt and effective fashion and in good faith. Consular immunity was never intended to enable impunity. 

8.   The Special Rapporteur found credible evidence pointing to the crime scenes having been thoroughly, even forensically, cleaned. These indicate that the Saudi investigation was not conducted in good faith, and that it may amount to obstructing justice. 

9.   Turkish investigators, accompanied by Saudi investigators, only had access to the Consulate on the 15th October for 6 hours and to the Consul’ residence on 17th October for around thirteen hours, where they also had to search the whole consular vehicle fleet. Their scientific and forensic inquiries were limited to “swabbing” and they were not allowed to drain a well located in the residence. The limitations imposed by Saudi Arabia on the Turkish investigation cannot be justified by the need to protect Consular operations.

10.  Turkish investigators decided not to search the Saudi Consulate without proper authorization from the Saudi authorities. The Special Rapporteur found that this was the appropriate way to proceed: creating an exception to the VCCR grounded inviolability of the Saudi Consular premises for the purpose of an investigation would have been unnecessary and disproportionate.

11.   She also found that Turkey’s fear over an escalation of the situation and retribution meant that the consular residences or consular cars were also not searched without permission even though they are not protected by the VCCR.

12.   The Special Rapporteur regrets that it appears no international body or other State came forward with an offer to “mediate” between the two parties to negotiate prompt and effective access to the crime scene.  This could have been done to also help de-escalate the crisis, protect equally the VCCR and human rights, and address as well the fear of retaliation. Instead, it appears that other Member States pondered rather only their own national and strategic interests. The United Nations either considered it had no evident means of intervention or elected not to intervene. In retrospect, it is evident that the ultimate casualty of these considerations was justice and accountability for Jamal Khashoggi.

Duty to protect and to warn

13.   On the basis of credible information at her disposal, the Special Rapporteur has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that either Turkey or the United States knew, or ought to have known, of a real and imminent or foreseeable threat to Mr. Khashoggi’s life. There was credible evidence to suggest that, had Mr. Khashoggi returned to Saudi Arabia, or been lured there, he would have been detained, possibly disappeared, and harmed. These risks were not linked to his life or presence in his countries of residence, namely the US or Turkey.  She did not secure credible evidence that US authorities had intercepted the Saudi Crown Prince’s communications or that such intercepts had been assessed before the time of the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.

14.   The killing of Mr. Khashoggi has highlighted the vulnerabilities of dissidents living abroad, and the risks they are facing of covert actions by the authorities of their countries of origin or non-State actors associated to them. The States of the countries where they have found residence or exile are under an obligation to respect their human rights, and protect them against violence by the States of the countries they have escaped from.  This obligation should entail, namely:

(a)   The duty to protect is triggered whenever Governments know or ought to know of a real and immediate threat or risk to someone’s life;

(b)   Such an obligation to protect includes, but is not limited to, a duty to warn the individual of an imminent threat to their life

(c)   The obligation to protect, including the duty to warn, is imposed on all Governments agencies and institutions, and thus includes Intelligence Agencies

(d)   The obligation to protect applies regardless of the status of citizen or alien on the territories of the State.

(e)   The obligation to protect, including the duty to warn, demands that risks assessment take into account whether some individuals may be particularly at risk because of their identity or activities, such as journalists or human rights defenders.

(f)    The obligation to protect, including the duty to warn, may be triggered extra-territorially, whenever States exercise power or effective control over individual’s enjoyment of the right to life.

Duty to prosecute and reparations

15.  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken timid steps towards addressing its State responsibilities in terms of prosecution and reparation. But these stop short of what is required under international law. 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.

16.  The on-going trial in Saudi Arabia of 11 suspects in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, while an important step towards accountability, fails to meet procedural and substantive standards. The trial is held behind closed doors; the identity of those charged has not been released nor is the identity of those facing the death penalty. At the time of writing, at least one of those identified as responsible for the planning and organizing of the execution of Mr. Khashoggi has not been charged. 

17.  The Government of Saudi Arabia has invited representatives of Turkey and of the permanent members of the Security Council to attend at least some of the hearings.  However, the Special Rapporteur has been told that this trial observation was conditional upon agreement to not disclose its details. Trial observation under those conditions cannot provide credible validation of the proceedings or of the investigation itself. It is particularly concerning that, given the identity of the observers, the institution of the UN Security Council itself has been made complicit in what may well amount to a miscarriage of justice. 

18.  In view of her concerns regarding the trial of the 11 suspects in Saudi Arabia, the Special Rapporteur calls for the suspension of the trial.

19.  To date the Saudi State has failed to offer public recognition of its responsibility for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and it has failed to offer an apology to Mr. Khashoggi’s family, friends and colleagues for his death and for the manner in which he was killed. The Special Rapporteur obtained information regarding a financial package offered to the children of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi but it is questionable whether such package amounts to compensation under international human rights law. 

20.  The restructuring of the Intelligence Services announced by King Salman is insufficient. There has been no subsequent information elaborating on the impact of the restructuring (or any other measures) on the decision-making, training, and codes of ethics of the Security Agencies, to name a few issues of concern.  Instead, one would expect the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to demonstrate non-repetition including by releasing all individuals imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their opinion and belief; investigating all allegations of torture and lethal use of force in formal and informal places of detention; investigating all allegations of enforced disappearances and making public the whereabouts of individuals disappeared. It should also undertake an in-depth assessment of the actors, institutions and circumstances that made it possible for the execution of Mr. Khashoggi to be carried forward and identify the reforms required to ensure non-repetition.

Universal jurisdiction

21.  The Special Rapporteur believes that the killing of Mr Kashoggi constitutes an international crime over which States should claim universal jurisdiction. The killing of Mr. Khashoggi is a violation of a jus cogen norm. It violates the VCCR and the prohibition against the extraterritorial use of force in times of peace. The circumstances of the execution may amount to an act of torture under the Convention Against Torture. It is a continuing case of enforced disappearance since the remains of Mr. Khashoggi have not been located. It concerns a journalist in self-imposed exile. His execution has an enduring international impact.

Accountability

22.  The Special Rapporteur is concerned that legal accountability for the execution of Mr. Khashoggi is being made difficult to obtain. The trial underway in Saudi Arabia will not deliver credible accountability. Turkey has not initiated proceedings yet and hopes for credible accountability are weak in a country with such a track record of imprisonment of journalists. Jurisdictional challenges and the impossibility of conducting a trial in absentia mean that a trial in the US will face many challenges. The Special Rapporteur makes a number of proposals for how some of these issues may be addressed while warning that no one proposal on its own will deliver credible accountability.

23.  The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the search for accountability and justice should include other means, including political, diplomatic, financial, symbolic. Actions to celebrate and recall the life of Jamal Khashoggi have an important part to play in ensuring public accountability for his execution.


https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/un-khashoggi-report-call-action

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/khashoggi-executive-summary-callamard-report-190619105102019.html

Reuters journalists in Myanmar jail receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Prize

April 13, 2019

Two Reuters journalists who are currently serving seven-year prison sentences in Myanmar are to be awarded the 2019 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize (for more on this and other media awards see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/unesco-guillermo-cano-world-press-freedom-prize). In the press release, president of the jury Wojciech Tochman explained the decision to honor Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, stating the choice “pays a tribute to their courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” and that the men “symbolize their country’s emergence after decades of isolation.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two journalists who had been working on stories about a military crackdown and alleged human rights violations in Rakhine state in Myanmar when they were arrested. Their investigation was published by Reuters while they were awaiting trial in February 2018, and included graphic photography and detailed accounts providing evidence that state security forces were implicated in carrying out extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya at the village of Inn Din. The Myanmar government has been accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya Muslims by the U.N. and various human rights organizations since 2016. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/06/50-human-rights-ngos-address-joint-letter-to-aung-san-suu-kyi-on-reuters-journalists/]

They were named as TIME’s Person of the Year last December. Earlier this month they received AI UK media awards [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/09/amnesty-uk-media-awards-sets-good-example/.]

For last year’s laureate see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/20/3-may-world-press-freedom-day-awards-for-journalists/.

The award will be presented on UNESCO’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Addis Ababa on 2 May.

http://time.com/5568605/myanmar-journalists-jailed-unesco-press-freedom/

Burundi: what more ‘early’ warning does one need?

November 10, 2015

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is President of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH) in Burundi. He was the Laureate of the MEA 2007 and on 27 October 2015 he received the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network’s East Africa Shield Award. What happened to him in the last months is telling (for earlier items see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/pierre-claver-mbonimpa/):

MEA Laureate Mbonimpa, Burundi

MEA Laureate Mbonimpa, Burundi

  • On 3 August 2015, prominent human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa – laureate of the MEA 2007 – was shot in the face and neck. He was forced to seek medical treatment abroad.
  • His son-in-law, Pascal Nshimirimana, was shot dead outside his home in Bujumbura on 9 October.
  • On 6 November, the body of Welly Nzitonda, the son of Mbonimpa, was found dead a few hours after he was arrested in the Mutakura neighborhood of Bujumbura where protests have taken place.
  • Just before that – on 3 November – Mbonimpa spoke out on a video message from the place where is recovering: https://www.defenddefenders.org/2015/11/voices-that-cannot-be-silenced-pierre-claver-mbonimpa-speaks-out-on-burundi/

On 9 November 2015 eleven leading human rights NGOs addressed an Open Letter to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to organize a special session to prevent (further) atrocities in Burundi.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sandra Luz Hernandez: another Human Rights Defender killed in Mexico

May 19, 2014

Mexico is one of the worst places in the world for human rights defenders. This is brought home again with this news item via Front Line Defenders that on 12 May 2014, human rights defender Ms Sandra Luz Hernandez was killed in Culiacán, Sinaloa. The human rights defender was shot 15 times in the head in broad daylight. Sandra Luz Hernandez was a member of Madres con Hijos Desaparecidos (Mothers of Disappeared Children), an organisation made up of mothers seeking to combat impunity for the enforced disappearances of their children in Mexico. The human rights defender has been searching for justice for her son, Edgar Guadalupe García Hernández, who worked in the State Prosecutor’s Office of Sinaloa, since he was abducted from their home on 12 February 2012 by unknown armed persons.

According to the record of the Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México (The National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Mexico), since 2010 to date, there have been a total of 31 killings of human rights defenders, including the shooting of Sandra Luz Hernandez.

[At approximately 4pm, Sandra Luz Hernandez was shot by a man as she walked along Calle Constitución with a friend. The human rights defender was reportedly on her way to meet a person who she had been told had information regarding her son’s case. Sandra Luz Hernandez had stated that, the day before, she was approached by a stranger in a shopping centre who said that he knew someone who could tell her where her son was. On 12 May 2014, the human rights defender reportedly received a call arranging a meeting with the person at the Benito Juarez Colony. The human rights defender had met with the State Prosecutor of Mexico to discuss her son’s case at 11:30am the same day.]
for earlier posts on Mexico, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/mexico/

Another human rights defender shot dead in Philippines

March 27, 2014

According to ucanews.com of 26 March 2014, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a human rights defender, whose name had appeared on a military hit list, in the northern Philippine province of Ifugao on Tuesday. Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan identified the victim as William Bugatti of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. She said that Bugatti’s name had appeared on an army list of targeted persons, obtained from undisclosed sources, which included activists and individuals working with farmers’ organizations. Bugatti was described on the list as the “brains” of the New Peoples Army” the military arm of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines. According to Piya Macliing Malayao of the Alliance of Indigenous People of the Philippines, Bugatti was on his way home from the office when he was gunned down. He sustained three gunshot wounds. Malayao said other members of human rights groups in the Cordillera region have also become targets of the military. “Bugatti’s killing sends a gravely disturbing message to members of peoples organizations and human rights defenders in the region,” she said. Last week, Malayao raised concerns about posters that appeared in Ifugao province, bearing the names of tribal leaders and human rights activists who have been tagged as communist rebels. “We now fear for the lives of the others listed on the military’s target catalog,” she said, adding that the list “proves that there are precision strikes being made on unarmed civilians” under the governments anti-insurgency program. Malayao said that during the first 10 weeks of 2014 alone, four indigenous people were killed by government security forces.

via Another activist shot dead in Philippines ucanews.com.

Human rights defender Mohammed Bedaiwi killed in Iraq

March 25, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedreports that on 22 March 2014, human rights defender and director of Radio Free Iraq, Mr Mohammed Bedaiwi, was shot dead, allegedly by an officer of the Presidential Regiment, in Baghdad. Mohamed Bedaiwi was a professor at the University and, for the past two years, the director of the Baghdad office of Radio Free Iraq. The station broadcasts from Prague. Mohammed Bedaiwi was stopped at a checkpoint on his way to work. An argument began between an officer and the human rights defender, and other officers reportedly began to beat Mohammed Bedaiwi. The incident culminated in the killing of the human rights defender. Reports indicate that the officer has been arrested but his identity has not been disclosed, leading to fears that the case may end in impunity. Mohammed Bedaiwi was very well-known and local sources consider it unlikely that the officers did not recognise him. On 23 March 2014 over 40 media institutions, including newspapers, radio stations and satellite TV channels, refrained from publishing or broadcasting in protest at the killing of Mohammed Bedaiwi. There have also been vigils and marches around the Iraqi capital in honour of the human rights defender. The press syndicate has expressed its concern about the killing of a journalist by an armed officer of the Presidential Guard.

[Since 2003 approximately 274 media professionals have been killed in Iraq; in the last four months alone, 11 journalists have been killed]

Human Rights Defender Daniel Dorsainvil and wife killed in Haiti – suspicious to say the least

February 19, 2014

In a recent post I referred to the worsening climate for Human Rights Defenders in Haiti (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/haiti-judicial-harassment-against-human-rights-lawyers-continues/ and now we learn of the killing of one of the leading HRDs, Daniel Dorsainvil (or Dorsinvil) and his wife in the streets of Porte-au-Prince:

haiti_murder (Photo Credit: Facebook/Girldy Lareche Dorsinvil and Facebook/Daniel Dorsinvil)

 

 

Nicole Phillips in RYOT News of 18 February reports that on Saturday 8 February 2014, Daniel Dorsainvil and his wife Girldy Lareche were shot and killed by an unidentified man who fled the scene on a motorcycle.  The double homicide left three children without their parents, Read the rest of this entry »

Human rights defender and indigenous leader Justo Sorto killed in Honduras

January 24, 2014

On 21 January 2014, the indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender, Mr Justo Sorto, was found dead in Jesús de Otoro, Western Honduras. Justo Sorto was an active member for twenty years of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations). The human rights defender was killed by several gunshots from a high-calibre weapon. [ COPINH is an organisation that works for the defence of the land and the environment, and for improving the living conditions of communities and indigenous peoples in Honduras.] The indigenous Lenca community works for the defence of its forests and against the execution of mining projects in the region.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mexican Rocío Mesino, an emblematic human rights defender, murdered like so many others

October 26, 2013

logo completo

On Saturday, the 19th of  October  2013 , around 1:00 pm, Rocío Mesino Mesino, leader of the Peasant Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS ), was killed in the town of Mexcaltepec, municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, in the state of Guerrero, Mexcio. Read the rest of this entry »

Lawyers for Lawyers object to false charges against peoples’ lawyers in the Philippines

August 1, 2013

 Yesterday I had a post “Philippines Chief Human Rights Defender, Rosales, asked to resign for ‘incompetence’”. In reaction I received from Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) an update on the continued pressure on ‘opposition lawyers’ who are labeled as “enemies of the state”.  L4L logoThe Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers warns in an open letter to Read the rest of this entry »