Long Road Ahead of Saudi Arabia

Long Road Ahead of Saudi Arabia

By Cindy Shi, Staff Member

On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who wrote for The Washington Post entered the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul and was never seen again.[1] He was trying to obtain documents to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.[2] Turkey alleges that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, while Saudi Arabia denies these allegations and claims that Khashoggi has just gone missing.[3] Currently, a picture of Khashoggi entering the building has been released, but there is no picture of him leaving the consulate.[4] It is believed that Khashoggi was tortured and killed by a team of Saudi agents in the consulate.[5]

It is possible that Khashoggi was murdered due to his criticism of Saudi Arabia.[6] If so, the reason behind his death would not be a surprising reflection of Saudi Arabia’s lack of human rights protection. The country has continued to arbitrarily arrest, detain and persecute human rights advocates and critics.[7] For example, Saudi Arabia has arrested nearly all the founders of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.[8] Other examples of human right violations can be found in its trial proceedings, in which defendants are not protected against self-discrimination and free interpretation services are not provided.[9] A look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also shows that Saudi Arabia’s laws violate human rights. For example, Saudi Arabia violates Article 19, 20, and 21 by prohibiting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom to take part in the government.[10]

Although Saudi Arabia has progressed in some areas of its laws[11], the country is still far behind in human rights. Perhaps, Khashoggi’s alleged murder will put more international pressure on Saudi Arabia to increase its citizens’ rights.[12]


[1] Jamal Khashoggi case: Turkish police search forest, BBCNews (last updated Oct. 19, 2018, 11:38 AM), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45909732.

[2] John Haltiwanger, Here’s everything we know about the troubling disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashogg, Business Insider (Oct. 19, 2018, 1:00 PM), https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-jamal-khashoggi-turkey-accuses-saudi-arabia-of-murdering-reporter-2018-10.

[3] Eli Meixler & Billy Perrigo, ‘Where is Jamal?’ Here’s What to Know About Missing Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Time (Oct. 09, 2018, 12:10 PM), http://time.com/5416396/jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-journalist-missing.

[4] Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about journalist’s disappearance, BBCNews (last updated Oct. 19, 2018, 12:41 PM), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45812399.

[5] Id.

[6] Meixler, supra note 3.

[7] Karen McVeigh, ‘Worrying’ clampdown on human rights: UN condemns Saudi Arabia, The Guardian (Jan. 02, 2018, 1:11 AM), https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/02/clampdown-human-rights-un-united-nations-condemns-saudi-arabia.

[8] U.S. Dep’t of State, Saudi Arabia 2017 Human Rights Report.

[9] Id.

[10] G.A. Res. 217 (III) A, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Dec. 10, 1948); U.S. Dep’t of State, supra note 8.

[11] See Shannon Van Sant, Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Female Drivers, NPR (June 24, 2018, 1:59 PM), https://www.npr.org/2018/06/24/622990978/saudi-arabia-lifts-ban-on-women-drivers; Julian Robinson, Divorced mothers in Saudi Arabia win the right to retain custody of their children in latest ‘liberal’ reform, DailyMail.com (March 13, 2018, 08:13 AM), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5494953/Divorced-Saudi-mothers-win-right-retain-custody-children.html.

[12] Haltiwanger, supra note 2 (reporting that the United Nations is calling for an investigation by Saudi Arabia); McVeigh, supra note 7 (reporting that international organizations are condemning Saudi Arabia for their lack of human rights protection).