Will Khashoogi get justice?

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Maliha Awan,

Since the Crown prince Muhammad bin Salman’s succession to the throne, Saudi Arabia has embarked upon an extensive modernization program. In this regard, it has also set forth for the reforms of the vision 2030. However, during this smooth processing of the matters, an unfortunate event took place where a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoogi who had been in self-exile for a year and lived in United States was brutally killed.

The aforementioned murder took place on the unfortunate day of 2nd October, 2018 with Saudi consulate in Istanbul being the venue. The deceased was indeed a very brave and bold journalist and a prominent columnist of the Washington post. Further, his boldness made him a critique of the Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman’s (MBS) modernization policies. As of today, Investigations by the CIA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been going on regarding this case and some of the suspects of this murder are claimed to have been caught. However, the real culprit behind this assassination is yet to be captured. According to some sources, it is the Saudi Regime that is involved in this case but any such statement cannot be backed in the absence of a substantial proof. It has also been suspected that the murder was pre planned and a special team comprising of approximately 15 people travelled to turkey so as to execute the plan. Through the security cameras outside the consulate, Khashoggi is seen entering into the consulate but he never comes back. According to the intelligence agencies, he was killed inside the consulate and his body was dismembered. During this episode, all the Surveillance cameras inside the consulate were turned off but fortunately an audio tape has been recovered. However, the choice of the consulate as the venue for this operation remains questionable. And the fact that the consulate serving as the representative of any particular state in the territory of the host state is only open to the consulate staff and not the unauthorized persons and is governed by the rules of the sending state further raises doubts and suspicions.

Khashoggi’s murder has shocked the international community and galvanized states to look into the matter seriously so as to aid in finding the real culprit behind this killing. However, investigations are being hampered before any decisive action can be taken.

And today questions are being raised whether Khashoggi will ever be able to get justice and whether these sorts of authoritative practices have acceptability in the modern times.

Moreover, Turkey as being the host state can play a significant role in the probe and it is the Turkish prosecutors that have gotten the power to prosecute the perpetrators of the murder. Further, Turkey has an undeniable right to ask for the extradition of the murderers from Saudi Arabia. Although, the two states do not have an extradition treaty signed but they can still sign an ad hoc agreement. However, it is dependent upon cooperation on the part of Saudi Arabia which until now seems highly unlikely. Nonetheless, Turkey itself has been trying hard to catch the real evils behind this murder and is playing a vital role in the investigations of this case. If Turkey is considered, one can anticipate that a successful investigation could allow it to strengthen its position in the region and increase its repute internationally as a human rights activist.

However, America has shown a rather restrained response. Considering realpolitik, America’s Stance regarding this case is a reflection of its interest maximizing behavior where without any evident proof against the Saudi authorities, it cannot ruin the relations with a state that is the Hub of oil. And even if the Saudi authorities are found out to have been involved in this brutal killing, it is highly likely that the US would not let the outcome of the investigation spoil this interest-based friendship.

Initially many states exhibited their deep concerns regarding this issue and some states even contained their trade and economic ties with Saudi Arabia. But this did not last long and states started normalizing their ties with this resourceful state as every state has its own national interests to defend and is never ready to sacrifice them just for the sake of humanity because states are after all, the power maximizers.

However, if history is any teacher, it tells us that such incidents in the past have either not been able to get the requisite attention or otherwise the investigations have been tactfully closed. Although Khashoggi’s case has been highlighted internationally but it yet remains to be seen whether it also meets with the same fate or not. Given the fact that the case has come into the limelight, it is an opportunity for the international as well as the domestic law-making bodies to seriously handle this case. Khashoogi was the voice of the voiceless people, who were deprived of their rights and now this is the question from the whole nation whether he will ever be able to get justice? Though, the Saudi officials have said that they are carefully investigating this case and do not want an independent international investigation as it will be an interference in their domestic affairs. But there should be proper implementation of law over this issue so that it becomes a precedent for the rest of the states to avoid these sort of brutal acts. And if the law-making bodies fail to implement strict actions against the real culprits in this case, this will be a reflection of the inefficacy of the law and the law-makers both internationally as well as domestically.

Moreover, the security of the journalists is the State’s responsibility as they analyze the current situation of a state and convey information to the masses by redacting their lives into risks according to their job requirements. So, a committee should be formed for the protection of journalists and other precautionary measures shall be adopted for their safety and security to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future