Labour has demanded the Government take action over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry demanded action as the six-month anniversary of the death of the Washington Post columnist (pictured) approaches on 2 April.
Khashoggi was killed while collecting marriage documents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October last year. Saudi Arabia has blamed his death on rogue agents and has detained a number of suspects.
Thornberry asked for details of “long overdue” progress from Foreign Office Minister Mark Field during departmental questions in the House of Commons yesterday.
She said: “Could he [Field] ask his boss the Foreign Secretary to guarantee to the house that before we reach that sad milestone, he will present the Government’s findings on who ultimately is responsible for that murder and what actions the Government is taking in response?”
Field said Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will meet the Saudis next week but could provide no further details, instead referring to a conference on press freedom the UK Government will host in July.
He said: “[Hunt] will be going to Saudi this week and I hope there will be progress in relation to the very serious issues she brings up in the house.”
On the conference, he added: “We need freedom for journalists to go about their everyday business.
“Obviously the Khashoggi situation is the worst, most glaring example, but some 80 journalists were murdered doing their business last year and many hundreds have been locked up.
“I think internationally we need to come together to stand up for those values.”
Thornberry said news of the conference was “important but hardly an answer”, and pressed Field on the Khashoggi investigation.
“There are no official answers and no official actions,” she said.
“Worse than that, we’re in a position where the Foreign Secretary goes to Berlin last week and tells one of the few governments willing to act on Khashoggi by banning arms sales to Yemen that they are wrong to do so.
“So can I ask the minister to ask his boss, once more, by the time of the next Foreign Office questions – six months on from the Khashoggi murder – will the Foreign Secretary be telling us all the people who he believes are responsible and what action – what action – will be taken?”
Field said “this issue clearly will be discussed” next week and he hoped for an update in the Commons following the meeting.
Picture: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File