Today, October 2, 2021, marks three years since the Saudi government’s assassination of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. POMED honors Khashoggi’s legacy as a courageous, peaceful voice of dissent who tragically lost his life for daring to speak out against the repressive Saudi regime led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The vicious murder of Khashoggi is a horrific example of the Saudi government’s disregard for the rights of its citizens and its assault on free expression and press freedom inside the kingdom.

During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden promised to hold the Saudi regime accountable for its human rights abuses against its own citizens. Instead, earlier this week, just days before the anniversary of the murder, the administration sent White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to meet with the Saudi crown prince, whose central involvement in Khashoggi’s murder was confirmed by the U.S. government earlier this year. Two days later, despite the reported role of Egyptian intelligence in training and providing lethal drugs to Khashoggi’s assassins, Sullivan met with Abbas Kamel, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate. In addition, during a recent trip to the United States, Kamel also seemingly violated the administration’s new Khashoggi Ban by brazenly demanding that U.S. authorities imprison American human rights defender Mohamed Soltan.

POMED is deeply disappointed by the Biden administration’s actions, which legitimize the very individuals implicated in Khashoggi’s murder and shield the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia from accountability for their grave human rights violations. The failure of the U.S. government to take the necessary next steps to secure justice for Khashoggi, such as sanctioning the crown prince, has emboldened the Saudi regime’s crackdown on critics of the government, and has demonstrated to other would-be human rights abusers that some individuals are above the law.

POMED renews its call for justice for Khashoggi and implores the Biden administration to actually center its foreign policy on human rights instead of simply paying lip service to them while carrying out “business as usual.” In addition, we urge Congress to continue to pursue accountability for Khashoggi’s killers and to stand up for free expression and press freedom across the region. To this end, POMED voices support for the amendments proposed by Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) to further accountability for Saudi Arabia’s role in Khashoggi’s death. We commend the House of Representatives for passing these amendments as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and we call on the Senate to follow suit and cement this important language into law.


Photo credit: POMED/Flickr