The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a regional freedom of expression advocacy organisation and fifteen other partner organisations across West Africa, are urging world leaders to demand and ensure justice for disappeared Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was a Saudi Royal Family insider who had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since falling out with the monarchy in 2017. While in exile, he was writing columns, some of them critical of the Saudi government, for the Washington Post.
On October 2, 2018, he went to the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to seek to formally divorce his Saudi wife to enable him marry his Turkish fiancé, but has since not been seen or heard from.
Following his disappearance, the Turkish government has released a series of statements and pieces of evidence indicating that the journalist was murdered in the Consulate, amidst strong denials by the Saudi government and its Consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi Consulate and for that matter, the Saudi government, has a responsibility to provide evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate alive and in one piece, a responsibility which it has so far failed to fulfill.
The 16 organisations undersigned believe that this case is a test of world leaders’ commitment to protecting press freedom, freedom of expression and opinion. We consider the Khashoggi case as an opportunity for progressive leaders in the world to mount pressure on repressive governments to take decisive steps to end crimes against journalists and impunity for such crimes.
The dramatic and flagrant manner of Khashoggi’s disappearance represents an act of defiance of international opinion and a blatant disregard for press freedom, the right to hold a dissenting opinion and for the right to personal safety.
We are afraid that if the world fails to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion, it will have a further chilling effect on critical journalists and dissenting voices in Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Such a failure will also encourage repression and embolden some governments to carry out enforced disappearances of journalists and critics within and outside of their borders.
We, therefore, urge world leaders including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, the government of the United States of America, the leaders of the European Union, the African Union and all progressive forces to respond to this challenge in equal measure by ensuring that the disappearance of the dissident Saudi journalist is unraveled and justice done.
- Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Ghana
- International Press Centre (IPC), Nigeria
- Observatoire Indépendant Nigérien des medias pour l’éthique et la déontologie (ONIMED), Niger
- Observatoire pour la Déontologie et l’Éthique dans les Medias (ODEM), Benin
- Observatoire de Liberté de la Presse, de l’Éthique et la Déontologie (OLPED), Cote d’Ivoire
- Association Guinéenne des Éditeurs de la Presse Indépendante (AGEPI), Guinée
- Union des Journalistes Indépendantsdu Togo (UJIT), Togo
- Maison de la Presse (MP), Mali
- Regroupement de la Presse Mauritanienne (RPM), Mauritania
- Convention des Jeunes Reporters du Sénégal (CJRS), Senegal
- Gambia Press Union (GPU), Gambia
- Centre National de Presse-Norbert Zongo (CNP-NZ), Burkina Faso
- Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG-SL)-Sierra Leone
- Sindicato De Jornalistas e Tecnicos De Comunicaçao Social Guinea Bissau (SINJOTECS), Guinee-Bissau
- Centre for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP),Liberia
- Associaçao dos Jornalistas de Cabo Verde (AJOC)-Cape Verde