The Alleged Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Why this case strikes such a nerve

Carla Ferstman

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Jamal Khashoggi. Photo credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy

On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent exiled critic of the Saudi regime and journalist for the Washington Post attended the Saudi consulate in Turkey to retrieve paperwork needed for his impending marriage to Turkish national Hatice Cendiz. Ms Cendiz waited for him outside the consulate in vain; he never emerged. Weeks have now passed and Turkish authorities have drip-fed a stream of gruesome information about their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and apparent murder within the confines of the embassy.

Details which have emerged include the arrival in Turkey of a team of 15 special forces officers and intelligence officials, information about Khashoggi having been tortured, killed, beheaded and dismembered with a bone saw. Apparently, some areas at the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was last seen alive had been repainted and toxic materials had been found by police. Turkish sources have apparently alleged that the body was transported to the consul general’s house nearby and disposed of.  On 15 October, CNN reported that it had been informed by sources that the Saudis are preparing a report that will say that Khashoggi died in a botched interrogation intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey. According to reports over the last 24 hours, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has travelled to Saudi Arabia for crisis talks regarding the unfolding situation and is on route to Turkey.

Saudi Arabia is clearly no beacon for human rights. While there is no pecking order for atrocious acts of violence, it is hard to ignore Saudi Arabia’s three-year campaign of indiscriminate bombing of Yemen, devastating the civilian population and leading to mass starvation. Nor should we ignore the spate of beheadings in the country.

So why does the Khashoggi case strike such a nerve?

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Mobile phone theft and EU eprivacy law: the CJEU clarifies police powers

By Lorna Woods

This post originally appeared on EU Law Analysis, and is reproduced here with permission.


This week’s CJEU judgment in Case C-207/16 Ministerio Fiscal is part of the jurisprudence on the ePrivacy Directive, specifically Article 15 which broadly allows Member States to permit intrusions into the confidentiality of communications for certain specified reasons.  Article 15 is part of the legal framework for the mass retention of communications data from Digital Rights Ireland (Case C-293/12 and 594/12), EU:C:2014:238) (“DRI”) on and in which the Court has affirmed that retention schemes could be justified only in the case of “serious crime” (Tele2/Watson (Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15), ECLI:EU:C:2016:970).  This left the question of what “serious crime” might be, and whether there would be EU law standards circumscribing the scope of this term. It is this question that the reference here seeks to address, though it should be noted that the facts in issue were very different from those in the earlier cases. Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Manon Clayette,  Nina Giraudel, Sweekruthi Keshavamurthy, Ayushi Kalyan


Taliban confirms talks with US peace envoy – AlJazeera

UN chided over new rights council members – BBC

Improve collection of data on disasters, Secretary-General Guterres urges on International Day for Disaster Reduction – UN News

Jordan and Syria say border to reopen on Monday – Reuters

Failure to act swiftly on climate change risks human rights violation on massive scale – Amnesty International

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir Ozbek

Each week students at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre prepare an overview of the past week’s human rights related news stories from around the world.


2018 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege for Fighting Sexual Violence – Global Citizen

‘Endless volley of assaults’ aimed at refugees: protection chief calls for ‘humane dialogue’ – UN News

Child sexual abuse and exploitation: UN event sheds light on the unthinkable – UN News

World Habitat Day: Governments must end the brutal practice of forced evictions – Amnesty International

Marking World Space Week, UN stresses power of space to ‘unite the world’ – UN News

Global Citizen Launches Campaign to Achieve Health for All – Global Citizen

UN Experts Slam Athletics Gender Regulations– Human Rights Watch

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Manon Clayette,  Nina Giraudel, Sweekruthi Keshavamurthy, Ayushi Kalyan


Chronic illnesses: UN stands up to stop 41 million avoidable deaths per year – UN News

UNGA meeting spotlights the ‘press behind bars’, as experts denounce record number of jailed journalists – UN News (To watch the whole meeting, click here)

World ‘Nowhere Near’ Reaching Climate Change Target: UN Report – Global Citizen

World Bank Group Commits $1 Billion for Battery Storage to Ramp Up Renewable Energy Globally – The World Bank

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Besir Ozbek


6 things to know about the General Assembly as UN heads into high level week – UN News

Bi Visibility Day: Making the existence of bisexual persons visible is a key building block in the eradication of violence and discrimination against them – OHCHR

Gender Equality Index Highlights Big Data Gaps Ahead of 2030 Deadline – Global Citizen

Indigenous peoples ‘lag behind on all social and economic indicators’: UN deputy human rights chief – UN News

Human Rights Council holds general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms – OHCHR

Report Traces Goods Made with Child Labor to 76 Countries – Human Rights Watch

A Call for Inclusion on International Day of Sign Languages– Human Rights Watch

UN anti-torture body issues landmark decision on rehabilitation for torture victims– IRCT

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An Independent Investigative Mechanism: Identifying Ways To Combat Impunity In Georgia

By Mariam Uberi

According to a number of civil society and human rights commentators, Georgia requires an effective independent body to deal with the investigation of torture perpetrated by law enforcement officials.

Between 2013 and 2015, the Public Defender’s office made 58 referrals to the General Prosecutor’s office to investigate alleged ill treatment of prisoners either by the police or prison staff. Some reports indicate that the Prosecution office has either dropped some investigations or did not provide any information during the course of the investigation.

In 2016, the number of alleged acts of ill treatment committed by the police was higher than that perpetrated by prison staff. The number of referrals for investigations into ill treatment in prisons dropped by one third. Reportedly, only two of 173 allegations of ill treatment perpetrated by police were brought to the court.

These statistics raise serious questions around whether the investigative powers vested to the State security services, the Ministry of Corrections and the Ministry of Internal Affairs lack adequate guarantees of independence and impartiality to address legal wrongs by its public authorities. Further, the Public Defender’s office and various UN human rights bodies have highlighted trends of either dismissing allegations of ill treatment against state agents or instigating charges that carry lesser sentences.

This post will review the national legislative framework on torture and ill treatment and how it is implemented. It will then provide an overview of pertinent human rights obligations and will review a draft law on independent investigative mechanisms aimed at ending impunity by law enforcement agents.

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ALMA-ATA at 40: Its Values are Relevant to the Data Economy

By Carmel Williams

In 1978 when the Alma-Ata Declarationcalled on urgent action by all governments to protect and promote the health of all, primary health care was described as ‘essential health care, based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible … and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain…’. It was also, in the first paragraph, acknowledged as a fundamental human right.

Forty years ago, achievement of primary health care for all was seen to be dependent upon a “New International Economic Order”. The Declaration twice referenced the UN declaration adopted in 1974 that aimed to rebalance power (and trade) by restructuring some fundamentals in the world economy, and providing greater benefits and participation to poorer countries. In comparison, the Astana Declaration on primary health care, due to be released in October 2018, shies away from such bold comments and instead states its commitment to ‘enabling people and communities to pursue the knowledge, skills and resources needed to take care of their own health, including the use of digital technologies.’

Predating neo-liberalism, Alma-Ata made no mention of the private sector, or partnerships with business. Rather, it proclaimed that ‘Governments have a responsibility for the health of their people which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures.’ In contrast, the 2015 founding document of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), identifies universal health coverage(not care) as an SDG, and stresses the importance of the private sector in the achievement of it, and in all other goals. “We recognize that we will not be able to achieve our ambitious Goals and targets without a revitalized and enhanced Global Partnership…bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector…”. Similarly, the Astana Declaration states, ‘We have more partners and more stakeholders, both public and private, working toward common goals…’ downplaying the essential role of government in achieving primary health care for all, and not acknowledging human rights obligations of states. Continue reading