The UN independent expert on freedom of opinion and expression, has said he’s “very disappointed” that Member States have so far failed to back calls for an independent international investigation into the “evident murder” of dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
In an exclusive interview with UN News on Monday, Special Rapporteur David Kaye, urged all governments to respond at a time when journalists are under attack, whether it's through the Security Council, Human Rights Council, or by persuading the UN Secretary-General to launch such an investigation.
Regarding the form of the investigation, the Special Rapporteur suggested an independent body made up of five people at the most, who could “evaluate the information that the Turkish authorities have been sharing with the press surreptitiously over the last couple of weeks.”
This, said Mr. Kaye, would provide the international community with a credible report of what happened and, whilst it would not answer every question, it could identify who was responsible: the international community would then have to decide what to do with that information.
If such an investigation does not take place, he added, the facts will constantly be disputed.
The death of Jamal Khashoggi, said Mr. Kaye, is emblematic of a broad kind of attack on freedom of information and journalistic reporting, one that is “encapsulated” by US President Donald Trump describing the press as the “enemy of the people.”
He expressed concern about the “rise in pressure on journalists and just what that suggests about our ability to sustain democratic institutions when we have such pressure on those people who are simply trying to report what they see as facts.”
Mr. Kaye also noted that, in his next report to the UN, he will focus on the abusive use of commercial technology to spy on journalists, activists and ordinary citizens, which raises questions about the rules for the use of such tools, and whether or not their export should be restricted.
The interview at UN headquarters in New York took place a week before the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, on 2 November, when UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, will launch a new campaign, Truth Never Dies to raise awareness of the dangers they face: every four days, a journalist somewhere around the world is killed.