US grants immunity to Saudi's MBS over Khashoggi killing
Published: November 18, 2022

The US has granted Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman sovereign immunity in a lawsuit over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The decision means that despite the near certainty of the US intelligence community that the 37-year-old authorised the brutal murder of Khashoggi in 2018, any prospect for holding the crown prince legally accountable for the killing is blocked.

In a filing released yesterday, the administration of President Joe Biden said that the crown prince's recent promotion to the role of prime minister meant that he was "the sitting head of government and, accordingly, immune" from the lawsuit filed by Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz in March last year.

"The United States government has expressed grave concerns regarding Jamal Khashoggi's horrific killing and has raised these concerns publicly and with the most senior levels of the Saudi government," the Department of Justice said in its filing, adding that the US had also imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions related to the murder.

"However, the doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law and has been consistently recognized in longstanding executive branch practice as a status-based determination that does not reflect a judgement on the underlying conduct at issue in the litigation," the Department of Justice added.

The decision is seen as another sign of capitulation by President Joe Biden who came into office describing the Saudi kingdom as a "pariah" and saying that he would hold the crown prince to account for the murder of Khashoggi. His trip to Riyadh in July, which critics described as a humiliation for the US president, was the first sign of a U-Turn by the Biden administration.

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Cengiz, said that the Biden administration's suggestion of immunity for Bin Salman isn't just a mistake as a matter of law, it's a mistake as a matter of policy.

"The Biden administration's decision to suggest immunity for MBS in our lawsuit was an unnecessary, elective action that will serve only to undermine the most important action for accountability for Khashoggi's heinous murder," said Sarah Leah Whitson of DAWN using an acronym for the crown prince. "It's beyond ironic that President Biden has single-handedly assured MBS can escape accountability when it was President Biden who promised the American people he would do everything to hold him accountable. Not even the Trump administration did this."


Related News:

Executions rate in Saudi Arabia doubles this year

Published: November 18, 2022

The media have revealed that the number of executions in Saudi Arabia in 2022 doubled as compared to the last year.

According to the statistics revealed today by the AFP, Saudi Arabia executed twice as many people in 2022 than last year; International human rights organizations strongly condemn this sharp increase.

According to the report of "Al-Mayadeen TV" network website, and according to the report of Saudi Arabia's official news agency "SPA", yesterday (Thursday, November 17) Saudi Arabia arrested and executed a Saudi and a Jordanian citizen after they were convicted of smuggling illegal amphetamine tablets in Al-Jawf region.

According to the statistics compiled by Agence France-Presse based on official data, these two executions increased the number of executions carried out in 2022 to 138.

And Saudi Arabia executed 69 death sentences in 2021. 27 executions took place in 2020 during the peak of the spread of the Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, and 187 people were executed in 2019.

The news on two executions comes only a week after Saudi Arabia announced the execution of two death sentences against Pakistani drug traffickers; This was the first drug-related execution in nearly three years in the country.

Amnesty International said in a statement at the time that the recent executions showed disrespect for the declaration on drug-related crimes announced by the Saudi Human Rights Commission in January 2021.

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