Saudi Arabia yesterday reiterated its rejection of calls to “internationalise” the investigation into Khashoggi murder, saying the Kingdom has brought the perpetrators of Khashoggi murder to justice. Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council, President of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission (HRC), Dr Bandar al-Aiban, said that the Kingdom was taking all the “measures required for us to resolve this heinous crime”. “We are horrified at Khashoggi killing and that it was a ‘heinous crime’ and an ‘unfortunate accident’,” said Dr Bandar al-Aiban.
Dr Bandar al-Aiban, who heads Saudi Arabia’s human rights commission, stressed that any calls to “internationalise” the investigation “amount to an interference in our domestic affairs”. Dr al-Aiban was in Geneva presenting his country’s response to a review of its rights record before the council last November. He told the council that most of the recommendations Riyadh had received regarding how to pursue the Khashoggi case during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November were already guaranteed by its constitution.
The suspects, he said, “were entitled to a fair trial... and none of their human rights has been violated, and they have been subjected to no form of torture or cruel and inhuman treatment”. “They are entitled to legal counsel, and they have also been informed of their rights to resort to the services of counsel during the investigation phase and during the trial,” he said. Aiban said that there had so far been three hearings and that the accused and their lawyers had been present. He also said, “representatives of international organisations as well as NGOs and other stakeholders... were able to monitor and see how the court cases were unfolding.”
Saudi Arabia has accepted as many as 453 human rights recommendations, either full or in part, during the past 10 years. In a report published on its Twitter account on Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) detailed the Kingdom’s cooperation with the UN mechanisms. It noted that in 2009, the Council provided 70 recommendations, of which 52 were accepted by the Kingdom. In 2013, it accepted 151 out of 225 recommendations. In 2018, the number of accepted recommendations was 182 out of a total of 258 recommendations.
But he said Saudi Arabia could not accept recommendations during the UPR for the country to allow international experts to participate in the investigation and to oversee the process. “Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country... Such demands made upon us are tantamount to the international community doubting the integrity of our judicial apparatus and doubting the independence of our judiciary,” he said.