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Friday, May 14, 2021

UN investigator of Jamal Khashoggi killing to head Amnesty International

A high-level U.N. official has been appointed secretary general of the international human rights group Amnesty International. Agnes Callamard’s past work for the U.N. includes investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani; she concluded the latter was unlawful. The Associated Press has the story:

The UN’s Agnes Callamard will lead Amnesty International

Amnesty International
FILE – In this May 5, 2017, file photo, Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, waits for her turn to speak at a drug policy forum at University of the Philippines, in Quezon, northeast of Manila, Philippines. Callamard, who led a United Nations’ investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been appointed the new leader of Amnesty International. The international human rights group said Callamard’s four-year term as secretary general begins Monday, March 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File). There is also an AP photo of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

LONDON (AP) — Agnes Callamard, who led a United Nations’ investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been appointed the new leader of Amnesty International.

The international human rights group said Callamard’s four-year term as secretary general begins Monday.

Callamard, a French human rights expert, has previously led free-speech organization Article 19 and directs the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University. As the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, she investigated the killing of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 to pick up some documents, and never walked out.

Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (AP)

Callamard has said that after her report on the killing was published in 2019 — concluding it was likely state-sanctioned — she was threatened with death by a senior Saudi official.

She also investigated the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and concluded it was unlawful.

Praised for her ‘intellectual acuity’

Sarah Beamish, chair of Amnesty’s International Board, said Callamard’s “intellectual acuity, her deep global human rights experience, and her courageous voice makes her highly qualified to front our movement.” 

She succeeds Acting Secretary General Julie Verhaar.

Callamard said she was “honored to take up the post of secretary general and work alongside Amnesty’s supporters around the world so that together we defend and demand respect for all human rights for all.”

Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty has offices in more than 70 countries and calls itself the world’s largest nongovernmental human rights organization.

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