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U.N. Calls For Khashoggi Investigation


And we're going to hear now from someone who says this Saudi investigation is compromised, that Saudi Arabia has in effect been investigating itself. His name is David Kaye. He is the United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, which means he's tasked with protecting those very rights around the world. Kaye has been arguing that the U.N. should launch an independent, international investigation. And he's on the line now. David Kaye, welcome.

DAVID KAYE: Thanks for having me.

KELLY: Now that Saudi Arabia has come out and confirmed the death of Jamal Khashoggi and given a tiny bit of detail on what happened, do you still believe a U.N. investigation would be worthwhile, would be necessary?

KAYE: Absolutely. I mean, I think we're in a position right now where we have all of these competing narratives, right? We have the drip, drip, drip of leaks from the Turkish law enforcement authorities that have given some really brutal details of Jamal Khashoggi's killing. And those seem really quite at odds with what the Saudis are announcing today. The idea of a fistfight seems really counter to what the Turks have suggested. So I think the only way right now to get to the bottom of this is to have a credible investigation, and that means something that would be authorized by the U.N. or the secretary general or some other international body.

KELLY: What would that investigation look like? How big are we talking? How long would it take?

KAYE: I think we're talking about something small, you know? We're talking about, as in past cases like this, maybe five individuals, could be led by a high-profile former prosecutor, investigators who have experience with international crimes and criminal investigation. And, you know, at the very minimum, it can involve analyzing what the Turkish authorities have been giving to the news media over the last week or two. It could involve onsite visits, interviews of officials and so forth. But I think it's something that could be done fairly quickly - four to six weeks once it's authorized.

KELLY: Who has to call for this? I mean, what would it take to put this in motion?

KAYE: Yeah, I mean, there's really a bunch of different models that would be available for something like this. The Security Council has authorized investigations for heinous crimes and comprehensive systematic crimes like crimes against humanity and genocide. They did it in the context of Darfur in Sudan several years ago, and they've done it in many other places. The Human Rights Council could do it. The Human Rights Council's benefit is that it's not subject to the veto of any...

KELLY: I was...

KAYE: ...Of the five...

KELLY: I was...

KAYE: ...Permanent members.

KELLY: ...Going to - OK, so if the...

KAYE: Yeah.

KELLY: ...U.S. decided they didn't think this investigation was necessary, they could block a Security Council investigation but not the Human Rights Council.

KAYE: Absolutely. And there's a third option, too, which several human rights organizations have been calling for. And that's for the secretary general on his own to authorize an investigation and set one up.

KELLY: What would happen once this investigation is complete? Would it be binding in any way? Could the Saudis just decide, we have our version of events; we don't buy it?

KAYE: Yeah, no, this is - this would be something where it would be an investigation - because of its credibility, because it would be internationalized, it would be something that from - you know, from that point, states could take a look at it and make a decision as to how to proceed. And there would be any number of options available to them, whether it's diplomatic penalties, penalties in international organizations or...

KELLY: Right.

KAYE: ...Other kinds of outcomes. But there's nothing binding. I'm not talking about a tribunal, but we're talking about a credible international investigation.

KELLY: That's David Kaye. Thank you.

KAYE: Thank you.

KELLY: He's the U.N. special rapporteur. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.