Some of Canada’s political parties have renewed their calls for justice on the first anniversary of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi Arabian regime, was a columnist at the Washington Post.
His death, which occurred at the hands of Saudi authorities in Istanbul, sent shockwaves around the world last year. Canada’s Liberal government called for an investigation and imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials.
A spokesperson for the Liberals said Wednesday that the murder was “an attack on the freedom of expression of all individuals and on freedom of the press.”
The party expressed support for the United Nations inquiry into the matter, which was published in June, and called for more action.
“Those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder must be held to account and must face justice. We continue to call for a full, international, independent investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
The Liberals have faced questions about Canada’s $15-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi’s death — a matter raised by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh when asked to comment on the case.
Singh called the anniversary a “sombre reminder of the need for Canada to speak out strongly against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, and halt arms transfers to the Saudi regime.”
“We must also recommit to working with our allies around the world to ensure that journalists can work free from intimidation, threats, imprisonment or death,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Liberals said that export permits to Saudi Arabia are being reviewed and a final decision hasn’t been reached on the deal, which was struck by the previous Tory government. No new permits have been issued while the matter is under review, she said.
The spokesperson noted that the Liberal government joined the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty as well as passed legislation banning the export of arms in cases where there’s a “substantial risk” it would result in human rights violations.
“Canadians value human rights and our foreign policy reflects that,” the spokesperson said.
Green Party candidate Annamie Paul, the party’s international affairs critic, said the Khashoggi case underscores the need to strengthen efforts to respect fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and a free press around the world.
Sanctions against Saudi Arabia were “a good start” but Canada can go further by halting imports of Saudi oil and ending arms sales, Paul said.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s extensive history of human rights abuses and systematic violations of international humanitarian law, Canada should be actively seeking to loosen its economic ties with (Saudi Arabia).”
A spokesperson for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
In August, however, Conservative candidate Erin O’Toole told the Canadian Press that a Tory government would try to re-establish ties with Saudi Arabia.
“Once you have a relationship, you can then work on issues related to human rights concerns about the actions of Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis the Khashoggi incident, democratic reforms, all these sorts of things,” he said.
Khashoggi was brutally killed and apparently dismembered by a 15-member Saudi hit squad in Turkey on Oct, 2, 2018. He was in Istanbul visiting the Saudi consulate to handle paperwork required in order to marry his fiance, who was waiting outside for him.
His remains have never been found.
Saudi Arabia says it is trying 11 people for the killing, but few details about the case have been released. The trial does not include the crown prince’s top adviser at the time of the killing.
On Wednesday, Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, was among those in attendance for a vigil outside Istanbul’s Saudi Consulate.
During the ceremony, activists called for a United Nations-led investigation into the murder and action to ensure that the perpetrators of the killing don’t go unpunished.
— With files from the Associated Press and The Canadian Press