GENEVA — With support from the fiancée of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings called for an international investigation into his death on Wednesday, excoriating the United Nations for its “paralysis” and Saudi Arabia for its handling of the case.
Presenting the conclusions of her five-month investigation to the Human Rights Council, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations expert, said that Mr. Khashoggi was killed last year in an operation that was carefully planned and endorsed by high-level Saudi officials.
Saudi Arabia had taken some measures to investigate the crime but had failed to address the chain of command, Ms. Callamard said, including the possible role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who American intelligence officials have concluded ordered the killing. “A U.N. criminal investigation is essential in order for these central questions to be addressed,” she said.
Saudi officials have denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the killing.
Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, urged the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, to use his influence to garner support for an international investigation. “I want to know who ordered the killing of Jamal and who else knew,” she said in a brief statement to the council. “I want to know where is his body.” l.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdulaziz Alwasil, rejected the call for an inquiry and accused Ms. Callamard of abusing her mandate. He said her report was based on prejudice, bias and “noncredible articles or sources,” adding, “We reject any attempt to remove this from our national justice system.”
Ms. Callamard denied relying on news reports and said that Saudi Arabia had not responded to any of her requests for access or information. She declined to comment on the copy of her report that she had delivered to the kingdom two weeks before its release.
She also said that the judicial proceedings begun in Saudi Arabia were riddled with flaws and contradictions. Fifteen Saudi agents carried out the operation targeting Mr. Khashoggi, she said, but only 11 were on trial and they had not been identified. She noted that a close adviser to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, had been identified by intelligence officials as a ringleader operation, yet so far Saudi prosecutors have not indicted him.
Saudi Arabia had not conducted its investigation of the killing in good faith, Ms. Callamard said. Her report found that a team of 17 Saudi officials had access to the consulate for 10 days before Turkish investigators were allowed in for six hours.
“There is only one conclusion to reach, which is the crime scene was cleaned,” she said.
“This is not a domestic matter,” she told reporters outside the council, alluding to Mr. Khashoggi’s residency in Virginia, where he wrote for The Washington Post, and his killing in a consulate in Istanbul.
Ms. Callamard, an international law expert who began her investigation after the United Nations did not initiate any action on the Khashoggi case, was also unsparing in her remarks about the United Nations leadership.
After the release of her report last week, Mr. Guterres’s office said that he did not have the authority to set up the kind of investigation it recommended, and argued that an inquiry needed an application by states or a “competent intergovernmental body.”
Ms. Callamard rejected that explanation, describing it as a formula for inaction. She argued that it was within his power to establish a panel of expert investigators, and urged states to make that request “so that the secretary-general will not be able to just create more firewalls between him and the responsibility to take action against impunity.”
Ms. Callamard also outlined to the council proposals for a number of mechanisms to better protect journalists in the face of increasingly aggressive actions by some states to silence critics.
They included setting up a rapid-reaction body that could provide swift support to national investigations. Another option was to create a permanent body to conduct investigations and prepare case files for criminal prosecutions, drawing on the example of Geneva-based organizations preparing criminal cases for crimes committed in Syria and Myanmar.
“If the international community ignores a targeted killing designed to silence peaceful expression of independence of mind, it puts at risk the protections on which all human rights depend,” Ms. Callamard warned.
“Denunciations are important. They are no longer sufficient,” she added. “Silence and inaction will only cause further injustice and global instability.”
Her proposals drew some expressions of interest but little explicit support from states in the council on Wednesday, and Ms. Callamard said she would continue to campaign for the proposals. “Today is not the end of the journey,” she said.