About a year has passed since the death of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who has been confirmed to have been killed by the Saudi Assassins in Saudi Consulate on October 2nd 2018 in Turkey. After denying the whereabouts after he Khashoggi went missing initially, the kingdom went on to blame a team of rogue assassins who carried out the murder. Along with the complex diplomatic situation, justice is still inconspicuous for Jamal Khashoggi who criticized the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. An expert in the United Nation, during the advent of this year, maintained that an independent and impartial investigation into the death of Khashoggi to be done. However, even his body has not been recovered. Since the safety of the journalists is inextricably tied to their professions, hence it is primarily the responsibility of the local government to enable a rigid legal framework for the offenders. The violence of journalists will perpetuate where freedom of expression is absent.
The murder trial has begun seeking the prosecution of the 11 “rogue” assassin who was involved in the murder. Nevertheless, almost no information was interspersed regarding the trial. The state media only informed that Saudi Arabia did not accept Turkey’s request for extradition of 18 men it suspected for a trial, which included 15 individuals it believes to have flown to Istanbul to carry out the assassination. Also, another important point was that the Saudi attorney general wanted 5 out of the 11 defendants to be convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.
According to the Director-General Report on Safety of Journalists and Danger of Impunity, UNESCO has received details on 657 cases out of 1010 cases which were condemned by the director-general between 2006 and 2017. The information collected is depressing as it shows that only 115 cases have been judicially resolved, signifying an overall resolution rate of 11%. The Arab States have registered the highest rate of impunity along with the top number of journalists being killed with only 5% of the cases declared as resolved.
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 has acknowledged in Article 19-“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The global legal system to a large extent has failed to ensure the safety and liberty of the journalists. According to International Freedom of Expression Exchange, in 9 out of 10 cases, the attackers were never prosecuted and this inconsiderate and glaring exemption from prosecution is perpetuating the cycle of violence against journalists and needs to be notably addressed.
Despite Finland reserving the top spot when it comes to freedom of press ranking, the Finnish journalists have been facing extensive online threats and harassments. However, the Finnish courts set an evolutionary precedent by convicting the instigators of an online harassment campaign against Jessikka Aro. Such actions in future against the offenders who attack the journalists and curtail the freedom of expression will act as a deterrent. A legal framework of stringent and comprehensive safeguards needs to be developed apart from just condemning the act of violence or formulating resolutions.
Tags : Saudi Arabia