If there is evidence that indicates that the government of Saudi Arabia was involved in the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United Kingdom is ready to impose sanctions against the Kingdom, UK’s foreign office told the media even as there are diplomatic tensions resulting from the investigations into the incident.
The UK had been clear “that we need to see accountability for the horrific murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi”, said the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
“We are exploring with EU (European Union) partners the potential for an EU global human rights sanctions regime, which could address such brutal human rights violations,” an foreign office spokesperson told the media in a statement on Monday.
“We will of course wait for the final outcome of the Turkish investigation before making any decisions,” the spokesperson said.
The explanation that Saudi Arabia gives about the death of Khashoggi would form the basis of any decision on punitive action against the kingdom, said the foreign office.
“The actions Britain and our allies take will depend on two things: Firstly the credibility of the final explanation given by Saudi Arabia, and secondly on our confidence that such an appalling episode cannot — and will not — be repeated.”
All allegations of involvement with the murder of Khashoggi have been vehemently denied by Saudi Arabia till now. In October, the foreign ministry of the kingdom had said in a statement that the death had taken place during am “operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had.” The kingdom has already announced the prosecution of 11 suspects in the near future and is demanding the death penalty for at least 5 of the suspects.
According to media reports during the week end however, which quoted a report by the CIA on the issue which reportedly is contradictory top the claims being made by Saudi Arabia and reportedly concludes that the murder was ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. But according to a statement by the kingdom’s foreign minister, the conclusion of the CIA report about the murder was untrue.
The US has already imposed sanctions at the individual level following the global uproar after the murder of Khashoggi. Imposition of “Magnitsky Act” sanctions against 17 individuals from Saudi Arabia was announced by the U.S. Treasury Department last week because of alleged involvement of those individuals in the murder.
The Magnitsky Act allows the US government to impose sanctions on individuals on charges of human rights violation and was passed by the US Congress in 2012. The act was named after a Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing corruption in the government.
On earlier occasions, the UK had indicated that sanctions against Saudi Arabia could be imposed if it was found that the kingdom was involved in the murder of Khashoggi.
“If the stories that we read about are true, and if you are asking me whether that will have consequences for the relationship with Saudi Arabia, then yes, of course it will,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had told the BBC in mid-October. But the UK is also aware of the U.K.’s “strategic partnership” with Saudi Arabia, he also said.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)