UN rights chief urges lifting Saudi 'immunity' over Khashoggi disappearance

UN rights chief urges lifting Saudi 'immunity' over Khashoggi disappearance
The UN human rights chief has called on the lifting of immunity of Saudi officials who are suspected to be involved in the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
2 min read
16 October, 2018
Jamal Khashoggi disappeared earlier this month [Getty]

The United Nations human rights chief called on Tuesday for the lifting of the immunity of officials who might be involved in the alleged murder of a Saudi Arabian journalist at the kingdom's consulate in Turkey.

"In view of the seriousness of the situation surrounding the disappearance of Mr. (Jamal) Khashoggi, I believe the inviolability or immunity of the relevant premises and officials bestowed by treaties such as the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations should be waived immediately," rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

This comes after reports Riyadh is preparing to acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an "interrogation gone wrong", one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, two sources told CNN.

"One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible," the news network said, adding the sources acknowledged the report is still being prepared and cautioned the situation could change.

The remarks follow reports that King Salman ordered an "internal probe" into the disappearance, a move critics say is designed to deflect the growing pressure on the kingdom and possibly produce a "scapegoat". 

Khashoggi, a Saudi national living in the US since September 2017 fearing arrest, criticised some policies of Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.

His alleged murder has caused international outrage, with a host of big names pulling out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia scheduled for later this month.

Key allies of Saudi Arabia, including the US and UK, have also expressed their concern over the assassination allegations.

Amnesty International demanded the Saudi authorities reveal what happened to Khashoggi as it said Riyadh was "responsible at a minimum for enforced disappearance".

Agencies contributed to this report.