Human Rights First Outraged by Administration’s Handling of Lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince

WASHINGTON– After the U.S. government yesterday told a U.S. federal court that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s purported recent promotion to prime minister gives him immunity from a lawsuit by the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Democracy for the Arab World Now, Human Rights First responded with outrage.

“The U.S. intelligence community made clear that bin Salman was responsible for the ruthless murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and then-candidate Joe Biden vowed to make a ‘pariah’ out of Saudi rulers,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “The Biden administration needs to stop helping abusive U.S. partners like these avoid the consequences of their own abuses. The U.S. governments move to stop this courageous lawsuit appears to be based on facts created by the man allegedly responsible for Khashoggi’s murder as a pretext to give himself immunity.”

Human Rights First strongly opposes the U.S. government’s policy toward the Saudi government and its handling of this lawsuit, which seeks damages for bin Salman’s alleged role in Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi state agents in 2018.

The U.S. decision is part of a broader and self-defeating practice of providing unconditional arms sales and other support to repressive partners. The Biden administration still has not followed through on its stated plans to change its posture toward the Saudi government after Riyadh announced oil production cuts that will boost Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

“This administration is simply not living up to its claims that it will ‘put human rights at the center of its foreign policy,’” said Breen. “Protecting U.S. interests – including the basic rights of Saudis, Ukrainians, and Americans – requires ending U.S. naivete about who our authoritarian ‘partners’ really are.”

Since Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in 2018, Human Rights First has played a leading role in advocating for the use of Global Magnitsky sanctions and other steps to help hold accountable the Saudi officials responsible for this heinous crime.


Published on November 18, 2022


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