The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Immunities, Inviolability and the Human Right to Life


On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist residing in the United States of America, where he was a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. This article analyses Khashoggi’s killing from the standpoint of the human right to life. It examines not only the obligation of Saudi Arabia to respect Khashoggi’s right to life, but also the obligations of Turkey and the United States to protect Khashoggi’s right to life from third parties, and to ensure respect through an effective investigation of his killing and mutual cooperation for the purpose of that investigation. It also looks at the extraterritorial scope of these various obligations. Finally, the article examines possible norm conflicts between state obligations under human rights law and their obligations under diplomatic and consular law, such as the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises, agents and means of transportation.